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Four Loko banned in Michigan

The fruity malt liquor known as 'blackout in a can' and dozens of similar drinks containing alcohol and caffeine must be taken off store shelves, the state liquor control commission rules.

November 05, 2010|By Melanie D. Scott

Reporting from Detroit — The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has banned the drink Four Loko and dozens of similar alcoholic drinks from being sold in the state.

Known as "blackout in a can" for its combination of caffeine and 12% alcohol, Four Loko is one of 55 drinks that the state banned Thursday.

The commission reversed its approval of all energy drinks that contain alcohol, citing safety reasons, and is giving manufacturers of the beverages 30 days to remove them from store shelves.

"The commission's concern for health, safety and welfare of Michigan citizens and the fact that there is not enough research to validate that these products are safe for consumption has made me believe that until further research is done by the FDA, they should no longer be on Michigan shelves," Michigan Liquor Control Commission Chairwoman Nida Samona said in the statement.

A Melvindale, Mich., teen said she consumed Four Loko before being sexually assaulted last month. The drinks have been banned on some college campuses across the country.

Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, issued a statement protesting the Michigan ban.

"The commission did not provide advance notice of its proposed action, voted on the ban with only three of the five commissioners in attendance, and did not give parties who will be affected by the ban any opportunity to be heard," the company said.

The manufacturer said it planned to challenge the ban in court. Other drinks banned include Joose and Smirnoff Raw Tea.

The makers of Four Loko came under fire after dozens of students at Central Washington University became sick after consuming the drink along with pills and other alcoholic beverages.

Central Washington University officials announced they were temporarily banning such brews on campus. New Jersey's Ramapo College announced a similar ban after a surge in alcohol intoxication cases since the beginning of the school year, with about half a dozen involving Four Loko. And the Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether caffeine and alcohol can safely be mixed and consumed as a single beverage.

Several attorneys general across the country, including California and Washington, have urged the FDA to move quickly.

A Melvindale, Mich., teen said she consumed Four Loko before being sexually assaulted last month.

The 23 1/2-ounce can of fruity malt liquor is said to contain the equivalent of about four beers and three to four cups of coffee.

"The drink needs to be banned, because I've seen too many people messed up after drinking just half of a can," said Carlaie Bunn , 22, of Detroit. "It's dangerous, period."

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