Society continues to either sneer and turn its nose up at Four Loko or indulge lavishly in its unreasonable and sticky, sweet existence. This time, the case has been taken into governmental hands, as the FDA is putting the one part malt liquor, one part energy drink under the microscope.
Four Loko is now banned in Washington, Utah, Oklahoma and Michigan. Massachusetts, Delaware and now New York — who will be Cuatro Crazy-less come Dec. 10 — are also on board.
The controversy stems from Four Loko’s ingredients, a limited laundry list of the equivalent of five beers, a Red Bull and an espresso shot. Sold in 23.5 ounce cans and containing 12 percent alcohol, the drinks come in a multitude of flavors including watermelon, grape, fruit punch and lemon-lime.
The drink has shifted from its humble beginnings to become a nationwide phenomenon, with somewhat of a society forming around its foamy head. Costume ideas galore, party themes, drinking games and puns (“we’re loccin’ tonight bro”) have inherently become activities that join hands with the consumption of Four Loko.
Phusion Projects LLC, the company that manufactures Four Loko, has adamantly insisted that their product is safe for consumption. As a result of a recent surge in hospitalizations from Four Loko-related incidents, however, the corporation will be forced to pump the brakes.
Phusion has agreed to take the energy drink component, along with two other ingredients, from the beverage many have deemed to be exceedingly unsafe. This is because of the heightened level of inebriation experienced after drinking a Four Loko, in conjunction with a number of health risks, especially heart issues. Alcohol mixed with a caffeinated beverage creates opposing effects on the central nervous system that causes heart rate to increase greatly.
For these reasons, a handful of states are outlawing the proclaimed “canned crack,” and others are quickly following suit.
Despite all this, alcoholic beverages mixed with caffeinated drinks are still served at bars, and vodka and Red Bull is a wildly popular mixture that can be purchased with ease at the very same stores that peddle Four Loko. The beverage’s relevance in our culture is laughable at best, and is an easy solution to a larger problem.
The banning of Four Loko can be looked at as another attempt at patchwork on the FDA’s part. Now that Phusion must remove the energy drink portion from Four Loko, there will be very little public incentive to actually consume the beverage. The administration is driving a company into the ground for selling a combination they have yet to actually outlaw. If Four Loko must be removed from the market, then what about the numerous drinks comprised of equally if not more dangerous components?
To call this a prohibition based on health concerns would be an exacerbation of the already hypocritical existing drug laws that allow alcohol and cigarettes to be sold freely while legalizing marijuana doesn’t stand a chance. How can we call this a boon when in reality, it just seems like a bit of a fumble — another try at pseudo-moralization — without actually making the world a better or safer place?
Perhaps this is a step in the healthy-minded direction, whatever that direction may be. But for now, rather than scrambling to pick up the pieces of a cocktail of a disaster, the FDA should consider looking at the bigger picture.
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