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Four Loko now banned in 5 states

Add New York to the list of states banning the caffeinated alcohol drink “Four Loko.”

four-lokoStores in Washington state have until Thursday to pull the drink from their shelves. The decision in our state came after several Central Washington University students drank Four Loko at a party in Roslyn, and many of them ended up in the hospital with blood-alcohol levels ranging from 0.12 to 0.35 percent.

Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma have also banned the drink. It’s a fruit-flavored drink sold in a 23-ounce can. Its fruit punch or raspberry taste is deceptive because it packs an alcohol content of 12 percent, which is about like having four beers.

New York Governor David Paterson and the State Liquor Authority announced the agreement with Phusion Products, the Chicago-based company which makes Four Loko. Phusion says it wants to be known for cooperation, not controversy, so they will not fight the ban.

A year after it began reviewing whether energy drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine are safe or legal, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to take a stand on the drinks as soon as Wednesday. The agency declined to say what it would do, but several food safety lawyers tell the New York Times a likely option is to use warning letters to inform manufacturers that the drinks were not safe.

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