Four Loko fears run rampant across college campuses
"Blackout in a Can," "Liquid Cocaine," "Alcopop:" Four Loko has gone from college drink du jour to national headline after reports that the caffeinated, malted beverage hospitalized nine freshmen in Washington state this month.
Several states are considering outlawing the drink and at least two universities have banned it from campus while the Food and Drug Administration reviews its safety, the Associated Press reports.
The drink stems from the tradition of mixing the caffeinated drink Red Bull with vodka, which became popular with young drinkers over the past decade thanks to the mixture staving off the sleepiness usually attributed to drinking alcoholic beverages.
The only problem with counteracting that pesky drowsiness? It stops drinkers from the body's natural shut-off moment, letting people consume far more alcohol than they would without the caffeine supplements.
The nine students who were hospitalized had blood alcohol levels ranging from 0.12 percent to 0.35 percent. A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.30 percent is considered potentially lethal.
Four Loko markets its brand in brightly colored cans, similar to non-alcoholic beverages such as Arizona Tea, and in fruity flavors, such as Lemon Lime and Watermelon. The 23.5-ounce can has an alcohol content of 12 percent, about the equivalent of four beers, the Four Loko Web site states. It sells for about $2.50 a can, making for a very cheap buzz.
The Four Loko company has also released a statement condemning reports that place the blame for the hospitalization on the company. "While our product is mentioned only twice in the 44-page police report, hard liquor, vodka, rum or other alcohol is mentioned at least 19 times; beer is mentioned at least 3 times; and illegal drugs or roofies are mentioned at least 14 times."
An entry on Urban Dictionary states, "Four Loko got its name because it sends the person who consumed it into FOUR STAGES OF CRAZY."
| October 26, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
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