(Chicago, IL) – November 19, 2010. Chances are there are a handful of alcohol-caffeine drinks on the shelf at your local grocer or corner store. But they will likely be gone soon.
Illinois is the latest state to propose a ban on the drinks, such as the infamous Four Loko. The drink is described as having the caffeine punch of an energy drink and the alcohol impact of a bottle of malt liquor. The drink is being blamed by some parents and schools for a number of young people needing medical care and a handful of deaths.
State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) this week introduced legislation that would keep all alcohol-caffeine drinks off store shelves in Illinois.
Silverstein said there are enough questions, and enough other governmental bodies asking those questions, to warrant action in Illinois.
“It’s an Illinois-based company that is producing this drink, the FDA is investigating, the state of Washington has already banned it,” he said. “The company itself has voluntarily removed caffeine from the drink. But I think we should codify this to make sure…our young people are protected.”
Phusion Products, which makes Four Loko, said in a statement earlier this week that it will remove the caffeine from the drink. The move comes after the FDA said the combination of alcohol and caffeine are not safe.
The move though only covers the manufactured drinks which are often sold in single serve cans. Silverstein said there are still going to be plenty of people mixing alcohol and caffeine, acknowledging that popular cocktails like a vodka and energy drink are served in bars across the state.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan may also weigh in on the drinks. A statement from her office said Madigan is aware of Phusion Products, as well as Four Loko.
“Our office will be contacting Phusion to demand these dangerous products are removed from store shelves around Illinois. The Illinois Attorney General will also be putting other Illinois companies on notice that manufacturing similar beverages may violate state law,” said spokesman Scott Mullford.
Silverstein’s legislation is new, and has a long way to go before becoming law. But he expects to have a plan headed to Governor Pat Quinn‘s desk sometime next spring.
Benjamin Yount, Illinois Statehouse News