Thursday, November 18, 2010

Energy drink fans react to news of possible FDA ban

Flagler College sophomore Matthew Sperber remembers the harm he experienced from drinking Four Loko, a caffeinated malt alcoholic beverage.

“The first night of spring semester [in 2009], I drank three or four,” he said. “I ended up falling and cracking my head open—I had to have stitches put in.”

The 23.5-ounce drink has come under scrutiny recently for its alleged dangerous side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration Wednesday warned four companies that manufacture caffeinated malt alcoholic beverages that such products are unsafe and that the FDA may take action to ban the purchase of these drinks.

“Experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication,” the FDA stated.

Phusion Products - the company that sells the popular drink Four Loko - announced in a Nov. 16 release that it would reformulate its products to remove caffeine.

“By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship,” said one of the founders of Phusion Products, Chris Hunter, in the release.

The other three companies mentioned in the FDA release are Charge Beverages, New Century Brewing and United Brands Company.

Some students say the ban is unnecessary. Justin Aprea, a 21-year-old University of North Florida student, fears that such a ban will set a bad precedent.

“It’s another step towards the governments over-involvement in the personal life of American citizens,” he said. “Land of the free or land of the regulated?”

Flagler sophomore Lauren DeGeorge agrees.

“I wouldn’t ban them because it’s someone’s choice whether they want to drink it or not,” she said.

Still, Sperber sees the positive side to a ban.

“Most people will acknowledge that it's not good for you, but college students have this immortality complex,” he said. “They think—hey, this can’t kill me. This will keep going until they ban it."

Story by Emily Hoover, Katie Taylor, Kelly Gibbs, Alex Bonus, Kamayla Hooten, Brittany Swan and Lauren Ely

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