17
Nov
10

Four Loko Fiasco

I sometimes wonder how often people stop to consider how full of shit they actually are. Let’s actually think about this a bit, we’ll start with one of my personal favorite drinks.

Red Bull/Vodka=quite tasty, but it is 16% alcohol with 80 mg caffeine per 14.3 oz

In other words, it has a higher content of alcohol but probably lower content of caffeine when compared to this Four Loko drink. Since the quantity of caffeine actually in this beverage isn’t disclosed and I don’t have access to an HPLC (if you do, have a caffeine standard, and feel like running a few dozen samples, let me know!) then I can’t compare the two accurately. For comparison, most energy drinks in 23 oz cans contain 160 to 200 mg of caffeine, but we’ll up it to the concentration found in Red Bull, so a total of 240 mg of caffeine. If (this is probably an overestimation of the level of caffeine) you consider the alcoholic content and caffeine ratios between Red Bull/vodka and hypothetical Four Loko you get something like this:

Red Bull/Vodka: .16 oz of alcohol and 5.6 mg caffeine per oz

Four Loko: .12 oz of alcohol and 10.4 mg caffeine per oz

I would like to point out to everyone out there that 240 mg of caffeine is already dangerously close to caffeine intoxication conditions, so we shall assume the company wasn’t completely stupid and instead adopted a lower “yield” of about 160 mg. Now, are the makers of this drink stupid enough to put the higher,  dangerous, concentration of caffeine into their drinks? I certainly hope not. The alcohol in one drink, while significant, would elevate the BAC to about .11 for a 200 lb individual if drank rapidly (Δt=0). For comparison, that is the equivalent of a four decent beers. Have two of these, and you’re looking at a little over a six pack and definite caffeine intoxication.

While Four Loko may, in fact, be dangerous, the danger comes more from irresponsible drinking and caffeine intake than from any particular beverage. Let us examine who is being hospitalized for drinking this:

“Four Teens Hospitalized”
“Denton police say drunken boy’s crash killed his girlfriend; both were 14”
“Sgt. Ed Wessing tells The Arizona Republic 18-year-old Lanae Cummins of Mesa told police she was playing the drinking game at a friend’s house”

Holy hell, every single one of these is under the legal drinking age? Perhaps better enforcement of the laws already on the books would be useful? Let’s keep going.

“Troy officers arrested two 18-year-old males around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning on New King Drive after seeing the vehicle they were in speeding. The vehicle exited from Northbound Interstate 75, south of Long Lake Road, according to police.
The men said they were traveling to Oakland University.
The officer searched the vehicle and said he confiscated twenty-four 12 oz cans of beer, six 23.5 oz cans of Four Loko and a single 1.75 liter bottle of vodka.”

“Standing with the grandmother of a 18-year-old Long Island girl who died after drinking Four Loko, the Democratic senator said federal and state regulators have already wasted too much time studying the issue and must move to ban sales of the beverages.”

Do I really need to fucking continue? Don’t ban something because you can’t enforce the laws already on the books. I’m interested in the FDA’s actual findings and research and look forward to reading it, but for fuck’s sake people, quit blaming the manufacturer for the failures of the parents and already existing alcohol regulations.

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1 Response to “Four Loko Fiasco”


  1. 1 Michael Lockidge
    November 18, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Regulators regulate. They don’t necessarily reason, they react. They react with regulation. Since the real issue is that kids act stupid sometimes, and occasionally die from the stupid acts, the regulation won’t really work. Especially since they can’t actually enforce the regulations already in place, as you pointed out.

    Since the regulators have the power to regulate from the will of the people they have to appear to be doing something about everything. Otherwise the people won’t see them doing their job of regulation. If they don’t appear to be doing something, they loose their power to regulate.

    It is a stupid, expensive system that easily gets out of hand and generally does not work very well. Unfortunately, I can’t see any truly viable alternative that would work. Such an alternative would require a populace that could reason and practice self-discipline.

    Also, what would we do with the regulators? Trying to manage stupidity at least keeps them busy, even though it is messy and inconvenient. Maybe concentration camps in which they can incarcerate each other and regulate one another to absolute impotence.

    Now I need a cup of coffee and a shot of vodka. Good night.


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