Thursday, November 18, 2010

Alcohol + caffeine = trouble

The Food and Drug Administration today ordered the manufacturers of alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine to remove the stimulant from the drinks or risk having the drinks seized. The FDA is acting due to concerns that the caffeinated alcoholic beverages lead to alcohol poisoning, car crashes and assaults.

The FDA is concerned about the phenomenon of being "wide-awake drunk" due to the heavy alcohol content and high caffeine levels in the beverages.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in the drinks is a public health concern and can lead to "a state of wide-awake drunk." Evidence has shown their consumption has led to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults, she said.
Red Bull and vodka is a popular beverage for the gambling set and college kids out for the night, but the combination of a stimulant and a depressant can lead to a situation in which an individual is intoxicated but has less self-awareness of their condition.
"The wide awake drunk phenomenon describes an individual who is impaired by alcohol but is wide awake," said toxicologist Dr. Bruce Goldberger.
One of the more popular alcoholic energy drinks is Four Loko, which contains 12% alcohol -- meaning one 23.5 ounce can contains almost as much alcohol as a six-pack of (that sorry excuse for a beer) Bud Light. Of course, the makers of Four Loko have their own spin on the issue.

For a slightly post-modern look at Four Loko, see what Richard Connelly and Craig Hlavaty of the Houston Press had to say.

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