Four Loko Hammered by FDA: Is Party Over?

Man passed out with Four Loko in the foreground.
Man passed out with Four Loko in the foreground. (

(CBS) The party may be over for Four Loko and several other caffeinated alcoholic drinks.

Wednesday, the FDA sent a terse warning letter to Four Loko's maker, Phusion Projects, LLC., and thee other companies, Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co., LLC., and United Brands Company Inc.

The document said that "the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an 'unsafe food additive,'" and warned them that "further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law."

The "FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is 'generally recognized as safe,' which is the legal standard," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Principal Deputy Commissioner in an FDA press release. "To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern."

Phusion Projects, which has long defended their products as no different than "having coffee after a meal with a couple of glasses of wine," announced on Tuesday they would be removing caffeine from their product line.

It's not clear why the FDA singled out only four companies whose drinks include Core High Gravity HG, Moonshot, Joose and Max. Earlier this year, the FDA sent letters to scores of companies who make more than 40 drinks, asking for proof that their products are safe.

Phusion Projects said they had provided that proof, although it appears not to the government's satisfaction.

And not just the FDA. The Federal Trade Commission also sent a letter to the same four companies warning them that "marketing of such beverages may constitute an unfair or deceptive practice" and they might be violating the law.

If the party is over, here comes the hangover.