Commission Moves To Ban Alcohol Energy Drinks 11-04-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Commission Moves To Ban Alcohol Energy Drinks 11-04-2010

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is moving to ban the sale of alcohol energy drinks in the state.
The commission said Thursday that drink manufacturers will be notified of the ban through an order that will take effect 30 days after it is issued.
Commissioners said the drinks should not be on Michigan shelves until there is more research done by the federal Food and Drug Administration to determine their safety.
The commission said a typical alcohol energy drink is 24 ounces and has a 12 percent alcohol content, compared to a 12-ounce can of beer, which normally has an alcohol content ranging from 4 to 5 percent. It's almost 3 to 4 times the alcohol content of a 12-ounce beer.
“One can, one serving, is enough to get you intoxicated. Alcohol energy drinks cost on average $2 - $5 per can, making these products easily accessible and affordable,” said Commissioner Patrick Gagliardi.
VOTE: Do you think alcoholic energy drinks should be banned in Michigan?
The commission cited recent events regarding minors in Washington State and other concerns from emergency room doctors quoted throughout the country as the reason for banning the drink’s sale in Michigan.
The issue received new attention after an Oct. 8 party in Roslyn, Wash., after police responded to a report of an unconscious female in a grocery store parking lot and learned about a party from her friends. At the home, officers found a chaotic scene, with students from nearby Central Washington University passed out and so intoxicated that investigators thought they had overdosed on drugs.
Nine students who drank a caffeinated malt liquor called Four Loko were hospitalized with blood-alcohol levels ranging from 0.12 percent to 0.35 percent, and a female student nearly died, CWU President James L. Gaudino said. A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.30 percent is considered potentially lethal.
All the hospitalized students were inexperienced drinkers - freshmen ranging in age from 17 to 19. Toxicology results showed no drugs in their bloodstreams, though a small amount of marijuana was reported at the party, university police Chief Steve Rittereiser said.
Some students admitted drinking vodka, rum and beer with Four Loko, which is made by Phusion Projects Inc., of Chicago.
Four Loko comes in several varieties, including fruit punch and blue raspberry. A 23.5-ounce can sells for about $2.50 and has an alcohol content of 12 percent, comparable to four beers, according to the company's website.
Health advocates say the caffeine in the drink can also suspend the effects of alcohol consumption, allowing a person to consume more than usual.
Phusion said in a statement that people have consumed caffeine and alcohol together safely for years. The company said it markets its products responsibly to those of legal drinking age and shares with college administrators the goal of making campuses safe and healthy environments.
"It gets you really drunk really fast and it gives you a lot of energy so you're not going to be laying down and sleeping," said 18-year-old CWU freshman Hyatt Van Cotthem of Everett, Wash., who said he's tried the beverage but doesn't drink it because the taste is "nasty." He didn't attend the party.
Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association president Mike Lashbrook released the following statement Thursday on the decision by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to ban caffeinated alcohol drinks:
“Michigan’s family owned beer and wine distributors respect and support the Liquor Control Commission’s role in protecting consumer safety, preventing excessive consumption and fighting underage drinking. Some member distributors have carried the products addressed by the recent LCC action, as the products had received initial approval at both the federal and state levels. With the commission’s action to rescind the state approval, distributors will take the necessary steps to comply.”
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