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N.J. Universities, FDA Respond Forcefully in Four Loko Matter

The news concerning Four Loko and other manufacturers of alcohol energy drinks is fast and furious, both at the federal level and - as regards states - especially in New Jersey.

We provided readers with information on the controversy swirling around these caffeine-heavy alcoholic drinks in a recent car accident post. As we related, there have been several disturbing incidents that have occurred on campuses and elsewhere across the country in recent months (including, notably, at Ramapo College here in New Jersey), and several states have already banned the drinks or taken other restrictive measures against them.

And now, at the same time that the FDA has issued warning letters to the drinks' manufacturers, several New Jersey universities are taking action of their own, following Ramapo's recent decision to ban Four Loko from its campus.

Several college officials have stated that they would support a nationwide ban on the drinks. The FDA's action last week stopped short of doing that, but it did demand that the manufacturers change their formulas or prove to the government's satisfaction that the drinks are safe. In response, Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, complied immediately by stating that it will remove caffeine from Four Loko going forward.

At a local level, Rider and Fairleigh Dickinson universities have decided to ban all alcohol energy drinks from their campuses. In lieu of that action, officials at Drew University have stated that students caught with Four Loko on campus will be charged with a serious violation of the student code, meaning they could be fined up to $250 and suspended from student housing.

Throughout its ordeal, Four Loko has seemed isolated and without advocates, and notes what it calls a "politically charged regulatory environment" against it. The sentiment that has strongly emerged from many quarters in recent weeks is well summed up by Ramapo President Peter Mercer. Four Loko, Mercer says, "really is a toxic beverage."

Related Resource: www.nj.com "More N.J. universities ban Four Loko, other alcohol energy drinks as FDA labels them dangerous" November 17, 2010

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