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FDA Pressures Four Loko to Change, Drink Disappearing

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Caffeinated alcoholic drinks such as Four Loko are creating controversy in a can. Recently more and more U.S. college students were turning to the drink as a cheap and effective way to party and get drunk. Now the United States Food and Drug Administration has stepped in to apply pressure to drink manufacturers. The result is the quick disappearance of the product from store shelves. December 13th is fast approaching. This is the day Phusion Projects LLC stated it would completely remove its product Four Loko from the market.  

Local stores in Central Florida recently stopped selling Four Loko

What is creating all the controversy and commotion? 

Four Loko is advertised in bright and colorful twenty-three ounce cans complete with more than 8 separate flavors. Depending on state laws, the drink can contain as much as 12 percent alcohol by volume. High amounts of malt liquor are paired with high amounts of caffeine, tuarine, and guarana which the FDA says are unsafe food additives when mixed with alcohol. Four Loko makers place a small price tag of only several dollars on the product and the result is a near perfect storm of dangerous ingredients that in many cases promote alcohol abuse and underage drinking.

The Four Loko brand created national headlines when nine freshman at Central Washington University were hospitalized after drinking large quantities of the beverage at an off-campus party. Since the incident, state lawmakers in Washington, Michigan, Massachusetts and Utah hoped to ban the drink completely. In response to numerous incidents across the country the FDA sent letters of warning to four separate makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The agency utilized an independent study to determine how dangerous Four Loko and other such beverages are. Experts in Toxicology and Emergency Medicine helped the FDA conclude the combination of high amounts of caffeine and alcohol poses a public health concern. Under intense pressure from the FDA, makers of Four Loko, Joose, and Moonshot decided to temporarily remove the products from the market. Many store owners are noting an increase in Loko purchases since the announcement. Many students plan to stock up on the last of the product and even sell it off to their peers for profit at a much higher price.

The state of Florida did not take any action on Four Loko before the FDA stepped in. At the University of Central Florida officials say there have only been several recorded instances of underage drinking with Four Loko. Students on campus gave a wide range of responses when asked about the FDA decision on these drinks. Some argued the agency’s move was a good idea because of the potential for alcohol abuse with the product. Others said that it should be up to people of legal age to be able to make their own choices and the government may in fact be intruding with this new policy.   

Local store customers can no longer buy drinks with alcohol and caffeine.

The makers of Four Loko will work with the government to reformulate their drink. They do however stand by their product. According to a recent public statement Four Loko says it appreciates government’s concern for its citizens, however they do not agree that caffeine and alcohol are unsafe. “When consumed responsibly, our products are just as safe as any other alcoholic beverage.” Regardless of how the company feels, the future will have a newer less intense version of the product. For now college students will have to enjoy the last few cans of this controversial beverage.

Written by ArthurVolpe

December 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm

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Four Loko Trend Hits UCF

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The new party favor found at universities across the country has made multiple appearances at the University of Central Florida. “Four Loko” and other caffeinated alcoholic beverages are popular because of their high alcohol content and cheap price. Several UCF students in possession of Four Loko recently received citations for underage drinking. Others have also received counseling at the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Programming Center because of the beverage. According to the director of the center Tom Hall, caffeinated alcoholic drinks haven’t posed any larger of an issue than other substances at UCF. Controversy exists because of the alleged, adverse health effects the drinks can have on young people. “Four Loko” was specifically targeted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of its caffeine and alcohol content is even higher than its competitors. With some states banning the product, the FDA is currently working with drink manufacturers to make their products safer on the market.

At this time the State of Florida hasn’t banned Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks.

Written by ArthurVolpe

November 30, 2010 at 1:54 am

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Despite Potential FDA Ban, Sales of Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks Up

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Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration announced it was working with manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages to remove their products from stores in an attempt to make them safer. Despite the potential health problems associated with drinks such as “Four Loko” and “Joose” college students apparently are stocking up on the drinks before they disappear from store shelves by December 13th. One store owner in Washington State said his business sold 30 cases of Four Loko only hours before the state’s governor announced the product would be banned. The drink, which is combination of caffeine and 12 percent alcohol in a 23.5 ounce can, has created a recent controversy with many experts connecting the drink to dangerous and reckless behavior in young people.  

Four Loko comes in Multiple Flavors

The potential for dangerous side effects hasn’t dampened collge student’s enthusiasm for caffeinated alcoholic drinks. Sales of the drink at the University of Miami have gone up since Spring Break 2010. Many turn to the drink because of its high alcohol content and cheap price which appeals to the average college student. There is some confusion about the FDA’s actual plans for caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The agency hasn’t banned the drinks yet. It has threatened to remove these beverages under federal law if changes aren’t made by manufacturers to make their products safer. Some store owners who carry the product believe this confusion may be why some students are now buying the “Four Loko” and “Joose” by the case. Some students state they plan on buying large quantities of the beverage in order to sell it to interested students at a much higher price. Such is the case in Columbus Ohio where some are referring to a new “Four Loko black market.”

After December 13 when Phusion Projects LLC and United Brand Inc. completely remove their beverages from stores, the companies will create a new formula for consumers without caffeine and other additives.

Written by ArthurVolpe

November 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm

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FDA Working to Remove Alcoholic Energy Drinks

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued letters of warning on November 17, 2010 to four manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages in an attempt to remove such products from store shelves. Phusion Projects LLC and United Brands Incorporated were two of the companies that received the notices. Both are makers of the popular drinks “Four Loko” and “Joose” respectively. According to the FDA, the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages has not been approved and is considered an unsafe food additive. The FDA website states that Phusion Projects now expects to have its products completely removed from store shelves by December 13th.  United Brands has also stated it will stop shipping its product and remove Joose drinks from the market by the same December 13 date.  

The Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t officially banned the controversial drinks from consumers. However, the organization has threatened seizure of the products is possible under federal law. The agency conducted a scientific review in order to determine the effects of caffeine and alcohol. The agency’s findings suggest the combination is unsafe and poses a public health concern.

Experts suggest when caffeine is mixed with alcohol it prevents people from recognizing sensory cues that make it difficult for people to know their own level of intoxication. The FDA believes their is a connection between this effect and risky behavior that could put people in life-threatening situations. Currently the agency is working with the manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages to make their products safe to sell on the open market once again. This includes the removal of caffeine from the flavored, alcoholic drinks.

Written by ArthurVolpe

November 27, 2010 at 8:15 pm

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Politics and Partisan Attacks Keep Young Voters From Polls

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This year’s midterm election was marked by Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The United States officially will head back towards divided government in 2011 with the Democrats controlling the White House and Republicans holding the legislature. This year was also marked however by low voter turnout in the youth demographic of 18 to 29 year olds. Analysis of exit poll statistics and voter turnout numbers revealed less than 50 percent of Americans voted in this election. Traditionally, the American electorate is apathetic when it comes to voting in off-year elections especially when compared to foreign countries. However what remains intriguing about the election results from this year is the sharp decline in the number of young people casting their ballots and allowing their voices to be heard. The 2008 presidential election was memorable in its ability to mobilize the youth vote. As a result, the democratic ticket received nearly 70 percent of the youth vote paving the way for an Obama White House. This year with only about one in every five young people actually voting the question has been asked if young people are losing faith in the political process?  

The UCF Arena Served as a polling place for UCF students on campus

At the University of Central Florida student organizations such as the College Democrats and Republicans attempt to engage Central Florida students in politics. The College Democrats registered almost 2,500 people to vote in the weeks and months leading up to the November 2nd midterm. The University of Central Florida saw visits from former president Bill Clinton, Democratic Senate Candidate Kendrick Meek, Attorney General Candidate Dan Gelber, and Florida’s Democratic candidate for Governor Alex Sink. According to the Vice President of the College Democrats at UCF Roberto Berrios, his organization did a lot of good work but it still wasn’t enough. When asked why young people aren’t voting in high numbers, Berrios responded by saying “its a mystery” and that many young people aren’t naturally interested in politics but need to be because of the issues that affect them.  

The UCF Student Union is home to College Dems and Republicans Every Week

At Tufts University in Massachusetts, a center for research in civic participation called CIRCLE conducted a post election study. The analysis concluded that many voter outreach programs were successful at getting young people to the polls on select campuses in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. However a big reason for the low voter turnout in the 18 to 29 demographic was the negative tone of campaigns across the country. Many young people have lost interest in politics because issues that are important to them are being overtaken by partisan attacks on the campaign trail. These issues included College Tuition rates, Unemployment rates, and even climate change.

CIRCLE also noted a lack of innovation on the part of the Democrats cost them key youth votes this year. The 2008 election saw increased enthusiasm from young people who were key volunteers in campaigns in many instances. This time around there wasn’t as much of a willingness to involve young voters as volunteers. Young people may not have lost all faith in politics however they do feel their voices aren’t nearly as loud.

Written by ArthurVolpe

November 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm

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College Dems VP Says Voter Apathy “a Mystery”

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Florida College Democrats Logo

This week officials from the College Democrats at UCF and Central Florida students provided some answers concerning the results of the 2010 midterm election. Unsurprisingly, this November election saw a lack of participation on the part of the 18 to 29 demographic. The 2006 midterm election saw 23 percent of young people heading to the polls and 2010 had smaller voter turnout at 20 percent. Roberto Berrios is the Vice President of the College Democrats at the University of Central Florida. He gave his thoughts on a variety of political issues including the reason for Republican gains in the house this year and political apathy on the part of college students.  

According to Berrios, the results of this midterm election were “sobering” from the democratic perspective. The Republican party made major gains in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. In the opinion of the College Democrats Vice President the lack of the youth vote certainly hurt the democrats this year.

The College Democrats at UCF were heavily involved in getting people registered to vote leading up to this years midterm election. Berrios stated his organization registered  between 2,500 and 3,000 people through group rallies and van drives. The University hosted visits for democratic senate candidate Kendrick Meek and former United States President Bill Clinton. With all the events and fanfare leading up to this election it begs the question, Why didn’t young people come out to vote? Roberto Berrios couldn’t give a definitive answer stating at times it remains a mystery. Berrios did say there seems to be a lack of clear communication between politicians and the electorate. This inability for politicians to relate to their constituents is worse for the younger generation. However it is important for young people to recognize the good work their government is doing and be a part of the political process nonetheless.

Written by ArthurVolpe

November 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

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New Analysis from 2010 Midterm Election

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The 2010 midterm election is firmly in the rearview mirror and some new statistics show young people still aren’t voting in high numbers. A recent analysis by CIRCLE, a civic participation research center at Tufts University, shows that about twenty percent of young people across the country voted this year. According to Rob Lockwood, of the College Republican National Committee, youth voter participation was expected to be down this year. The analysis by CIRCLE was conducted through exit poll numbers taken the day of the midterm election this year.   

The study recognized that organizations such as Rock the Vote and The League of Young Voters were successful in recruiting young people to the polls. Young people who did cast their ballots did so in favor of the democrats. Fifty six percent of young people who voted went for the democrats compared to 40 percent choosing republican. The study attempted to explain why more young people didn’t vote this year. There appears to be a disconnect between politicians’ campaign rhetoric and the topics that young people truly care about. These topics include unemployment, climate change, and the rising cost of a college education. The study concluded young people feel these issues were overtaken by partisan attacks on the campaign trail. 

A lack of political efficacy for young people is nothing new. However, the country is only recently removed from a 2008 presidential election where young people came to the polls in droves. Nearly 70 percent of this highly coveted demographic voted for Barack Obama. The CIRCLE study concluded that since 2008 there has been a lack of innovation in getting young people involved in the campaigning process. A tactic used extensively by the Obama administration to mobilize young voters two years ago.  However one thing is clear. Most young people are staying home on election day.

Written by ArthurVolpe

November 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm

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