The manufacturer of Four Loko, the controversial alcoholic energy drink at the center of the country’s latest pundit-rousing media frenzy, announced yesterday that they will eliminate caffeine, taurine and guarana from the drink’s formula.
Phusion Projects, the Chicago-based company behind the popular beverage, bowed to pressure from critics in an effort to avoid the consequences of a full-fledged federal crackdown.
The announcement that the company was changing its formula came just a day before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to Phusion Projects, along with three other manufacturers of similar beverages, that their products were unsafe and could be seized under federal law.
Despite agreeing to alter Four Loko’s contents, the founders of Phusion Projects still maintain that the drink is perfectly safe when consumed responsibly.
"We have repeatedly contended – and still believe, as do many people throughout the country – that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe," Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman, the company’s three founders, said in a statement. "If it were unsafe, popular drinks like rum and colas or Irish coffees that have been consumed safely and responsibly for years would face the same scrutiny that our products have recently faced."
Though the FDA has been investigating the health concerns surrounding Four Loko and similar alcoholic energy drinks since November 2009, the controversy came to a head last month when nine underage students at Central Washington University were hospitalized after consuming Four Loko.
The beverage, fondly referred to as "blackout in a can" by its users, combines the equivalent of three cups of coffee with three cans of beer, in addition to such chemical stimulants as taurine and guarana.
Without its signature energy kick, the drink will likely resemble something bordering on malt liquor mixed with fruit punch. Oh wait, that’s what it tastes like now. Just throw a little Red Bull in there and it’ll be like nothing ever changed.