After numerous cases of people going to emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning, serious illness or in a comatose state, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter on November 17, 2010 to four companies that produce alcohol energy drinks (i.e. Four Loko, Joose, High Gravity, Moonshot).


After numerous cases of people going to emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning, serious illness or in a comatose state, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter on November 17, 2010 to four companies that produce alcohol energy drinks (i.e. Four Loko, Joose, High Gravity, Moonshot).
According to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration, these companies "are not in compliance with the law and that the addition of caffeine does not meet our legal standards for safety."
Recent analysis has shown the caffeine content of these drinks is 150-300 percent of the amount of caffeine that the FDA allows for cola beverages (McCusker, Goldberger, & Cone, 2006). According to CBS News one Four Loco = 4 cans of beer + 1 can of Red Bull + 1 espresso.
There is great concern that these drinks are being targeted and marketed to young people. They come in colorful cans, fruity flavors and are quite cheap (under $3.00 per can). A study of over 800 bar patrons in a U.S. college bar district found bar patrons who consumed alcohol energy drinks were three times more likely to leave a bar highly intoxicated and four times more likely to intend to drive upon leaving the bar, compared with those who did not drink the mixed beverage. (Thombsa, University of Florida, Gainesville)
Five states (Washington, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and New York) have now banned these drinks. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has asked every one of the 17,000 beer   distributors, restaurants, bars and other organizations that sell alcoholic beverages in the Commonwealth to voluntarily and immediately stop selling alcohol energy drinks.
Parents and educators need to talk to children about the dangers of these drinks. Outside the Classroom, an organization that specializes in alcohol prevention, research and program development has come up with the TOP 5 REASONS WHY MIXING CAFFEINE OR ENERGY DRINKS WITH ALCOHOL IS A REALLY BAD IDEA:
1. Mixing caffeine and alcohol can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning. Since caffeine makes people feel "less drunk" than they really are, they tend to drink more than they should.
2. Mixing alcohol and caffeine can make your heart rate and blood pressure rise.
3. Caffeine can make you feel energetic even if you're drunk. Why is this dangerous? Because people can be "tricked" into thinking that they are alert enough to do things like drive a car, when they really aren't.
4. Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics which lead to dehydration (and really bad hangovers).
5. Adding caffeine to alcohol can make drinking alcohol all the more addictive.
This information was provided by the Wayne County Drug & Alcohol Commission, 318 10th St., Honesdale. Their office may be contacted at (570)253-6022. Bonnie Tolerico is the Executive Director.