Nov 092010
Authors: Sarah Banes

In recent weeks, health experts and college campus officials have openly criticized the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, calling for students to not go too loco for the adult beverage.

The 23.5-ounce drink, marketed with a large, colorful can and the slogan “Liquid Cocaine in a Can,” contains up to 12 percent alcohol per volume and 156 milligrams of caffeine ­­–– the equivalent of almost two 7 oz. cups of coffee.

Ramapo College, a small public liberal arts school in New Jersey, has already placed a ban on Four Loko, claiming the product seems to be marketed to underage drinkers.

According to Phusion Projects’ website, the company that sells Four Loko, “We go to great lengthsto ensure our products are not sold to underage consumers and are not abused. As a company, we do all we can to ensure that our products are consumed safely and responsibly.”

The company, formed by three Ohio State University students in 2005, also sells the alcoholic energy drinks Four MaXed and Earthquake.

As of last Thursday, the state of Michigan has banned Four Loko. There is a request to also ban the drink in Chicago, where Phusion Projects is based.

In a statement released on the day of the ban, Phusion Projects said, “We know curbing will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product or beverage category.”

Jeff Matson, the beer-buying manager at Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, said it is not just college students buying the $2.99 cans of Four Loko.

“These drinks have always been popular. We see people buying them from all different age groups, from college students to adults,” said Matson, adding that sales on other alcoholic energy drinks are actually down.

Dr. Brian Butki, from CSU’s Department of Health and Exercise Science, said he could see why some schools are banning the drink.

“It’s kind of like drinking a Jack and Coke. It’s going to give you a contradictory effect. You are putting a sedative and a stimulant together, but it will affect everyone differently,” Butki said. “The stimulant speeds up the effect of the alcohol, and it is never smart to mix the two.”

Because of the high caffeine content, the drink makes consumers feel less drunk and more awake, signaling to the drinker they need to drink more.

The FDA is currently evaluating the hazards of alcoholic energy drinks and trying to determine whether these drinks should remain legal. A deadline for its decision has not been set.

Staff writer Sarah Banes can be reached at

More about the drink

  • Size of drink: 23.5 ounces
  • Coffee equivalent: Up to two 7-ounce cups of coffee
  • Alcohol equivalent: One Four Loko has more alcohol than five cans of Coors Light (2.82 ounces per-23.5-ounce can of Four Loko, 0.54 ounces per 12-ounce can of Coors Light)

Information gathered from,,

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