• Four Loko to lose 'energy' ingredients
  • FDA pressures producers to reformulate
  • Phusion denies 'unsafe' claims
Phusion Projects acts under pressure from Food & Drug Administration

Phusion Projects acts under pressure from Food & Drug Administration

The company at the forefront of public debate on alcoholic energy drinks in the US, Phusion Projects, has agreed to strip the caffeine out of its Four Loko beverage following pressure from regulators.

Phusion Projects said today (17 November) that it will cut caffeine, guarana and taurine from its Four Loko drink. The move comes as the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) mulls a ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks containing caffeine in the US due to concerns for consumer safety.

The US states of Michigan and Washington have banned the products within the last month and several other states are expected to follow suit. The head of the FDA subcomittee in the US Congress has also today called for a nationwide ban on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks containing caffeine.

Four Loko has been at the centre of renewed pressure on the products. Several college students in the US were hospitalised last month after allegedly consuming Four Loko, among other drinks.

It is expected that the FDA, which has been reviewing the products for the last year, will force companies to reformulate their drinks. "It is FDA’s position that these type (caffeinated-alcohol) of beverages are not 'generally recognised as safe' (GRAS) and therefore we have concerns about their safety and legality," an FDA spokesperson told just-drinks earlier this month.

Phusion Projects today denied accusations that Four Loko is unsafe. "If it were unsafe, popular drinks like rum and colas or Irish coffees that have been consumed safely and responsibly for years would face the same scrutiny that our products have recently faced," said the group.

It said that regulatory pressure was the main reason for its decision. "We are taking this step after trying – unsuccessfully – to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels," said Phusion.

The group said that it has been in dialogue with the FDA for several months. "We hoped that clear, consistent, industry-wide standards regulating pre-packaged caffeinated alcoholic beverages would be the outcome of these conversations," it said.