Nov 22, 2010

Four Loko and Other Caffeine-Alcohol Drinks: Last Call?

Like it or not, caffeine and alcohol are as American as Starbucks and Budweiser. But from now on, consumers looking to dabble in both are probably going to have to pick one vice or the other at a time. Last week, the FDA fired a loud warning shot over the marketing of drinks like Four Loko, Joose, and Core -- alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine as an "unsafe food additive," according to the health agency.

Here are the caffeinated alcoholic drinks affected by last week's FDA marketing warnings (click on a hyperlinked company name to see the FDA warning letter sent to that beverage's manufacturer):

The FDA is warning consumers that "individuals drinking these beverages may consume more alcohol -- and become more intoxicated -- than they realize," and that "drinking caffeine and alcohol together may lead to hazardous and life-threatening behaviors." It's not for nothing that in some circles these drinks are known as "blackout in a can."

On the heels of the FDA's warnings, a number of states have already banned the sale of drinks like Four Loko, including Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington. And according to, at least one wrongful death lawsuit has already been filed over the safety of Four Loko.

Learn more about unsafe products and FDA warnings in the Dangerous Products & Drugs section of Nolo's Accidents & Injuries Center.