The first time I was introduced to an alcoholic beverage infused with caffeine was watching the sitcom “The Drew Carey Show”, where the gang created “buzz beer”, which could get you drunk, and keep you partying well into the night. If this wasn’t a television show, Drew Carey and his brewery would be headed towards hard times, with the FDA now looking to ban all caffeinated alcoholic beverages in the US.
Senator Charles Schumer (D) of New York recently told the media that the FDA will rule that caffeine is an unsafe additive to alcoholic drinks. These drinks typically contain alcohol, caffeine, taurine, guarana, and ginko, but the caffeine mixed with alcohol seems to be the major concern, as the consumer does not immediately feel the typical symptoms of the alcohol until the caffeine has worn off, sometimes leading to over-drinking and “blacking out”. The body is conflicted with the two ingredients, as alcohol is a depressant, and caffeine is a stimulant, commonly leading to over-consumption.
The company drawing the most heat in recent news is Phusion Products, who offer the line of caffeinated alcoholic drink Four Loko, which contains 6 to 12 percent alcohol by volume, depending on state regulations. Other lines available such as Sparks, Joose, and 3sum will also be affected by this change in legislation.
New York, Washington, Utah, Michigan and Oklahoma have already banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages from their shelves, after recent incidents on college campuses, involving students becoming ill after over-drinking said beverages. The most recent occurrence was at Central Washington University, where several students were hospitalized after experiencing black-outs.
One might argue that alcohol, regardless of it’s contents and advertising still runs the risk of being over-consumed, especially in college-type settings. Movies such as “Animal House” and “Old School” almost glorify this aspect, and studies have shown that alcohol in college life leads to high-risk sexual behavior, vehicular accidents, sexual aggression, and college drop-out rates. Will targeting caffeinated alcoholic drinks really curb these results?
Ironically enough, Four Loko was created by four almuni from Ohio State University in 2006, and it’s over-consumption in the college arena may lead to caffeinated alcoholic drink’s own downfall. Phusion Products already plans on reformulating the beverage, to be offered without caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Whether or not college students, and US citizens in the US begin to stop drinking alcoholic beverages in excess, is up for debate.