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November 23, 2010

If You’re Not Allowed to be Loco For Four Loko, Can You Still be Coo Coo For Cocoa Puffs?

When it isn’t busy trying to convince you that chopped walnuts and Cheerios are drugs or attempting to suppress the expression of opinions that have not been pre-approved by the proper authorities, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works diligently to ensure you are not subjected to foods that have been adulterated with ingredients not “generally recognized as safe” by which they mean “been generally recognized as safe for decades.”

Specifically, the FDA, responding to an outcry over the recent discovery that college students get drunk and do stupid things, is cracking down on caffeinated alcoholic beverages sending letters to, among other companies, the makers of the infamous “Four Loko:”

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the regulatory status of the ingredients declared on the label of your product, "Four Loko" which contains caffeine that has been directly added to an alcoholic beverage and packaged in combined caffeine and alcohol form. As it is used in your product, caffeine is an unsafe food additive, and therefore your product is adulterated under section 402(a)(2)(C) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(2)(C)].”

This past Saturday I adulterated a bottle of whiskey with an unsafe Dunkin’ Donuts “Box O’Joe.” Imagine my horror at the realization that I have been adulterating alcohol with unsafe caffeine for decades!

As David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection warned, young drinkers, "may not realize how much alcohol they have consumed because caffeine can mask the sense of intoxication."

You know what else can mask the sense of intoxication? 


Regardless, the situation is so dire that in addition to the FDA and FTC, the TTB got involved as well!

Okay, we had no idea what the TTB was either, but it is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and apparently they are so upset that their title doesn’t match their initials like the other cool agencies, they felt it important to pile on in a press release announcing that it had:

“…notified four companies that if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems their caffeinated alcohol beverage products adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, we would consider them to be mislabeled under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, making it a violation for industry members to sell or ship the products in interstate or foreign commerce.”

In other words, if they are deemed to be in violation of the law, the TTB will consider them in violation of the law.

Good of them to clear that up for us.

In an apparent effort to better reach out to youth and appear hip and current, the FDA went so far as to set up a Flickr page dedicated to pictures of caffeinated alcoholic beverage containers. 

FDA on Flickr

Why? We have no idea. It’s like your grandfather going on about how he’s on Twitter and wants to friend you and OMG he can’t believe U cant C where he’s coming from and you know for a fact that whenever you talk about getting him set up for WiFi he doesn’t say anything because he thinks you have a speech impediment.

Clearly, this issue is too important not to address on a more personal level.  That, plus I don’t much like being told that I can’t do something.  You know how your mother used to ask you, “If Billy jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too?” 

No, I wouldn’t.

But if Billy told me I wasn’t allowed to jump off the bridge…

Tomorrow, Four Loko, up close and personal.


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November 23, 2010 at 07:59 PM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink


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