Caffeinated alcohol drinks under fire after incidents

Four Loko caffeinated alcohol drinks
Four Loko caffeinated alcohol drinks

Selling unhealthy foods to young people is hardly a new thing, but combining alcohol and caffeine in a 24-ounce can and marketing it to underage partygoers as a fruit-flavored pick-me-up is pushing the boundaries. The drinks are raising alarms among consumer advocacy groups, doctors and lawmakers over concoctions like Four Loko and Joose, which have a loyal following despite causing blackouts and other health emergencies.

The malt beverages, whose funky package designs and labeling make them look almost indistinguishable from iced tea or non-alcoholic energy drinks, typically contain 6% to 12% alcohol and caffeine in the range of 54mg to 135mg, packed in a 23.5-ounce can. The drinks, also known as "alcospeed" for their potent mix of caffeine, guarana, taurine and ginseng, are dangerous because the caffeine tricks the body into staying alert and consuming more, creating a perfect storm of intoxication helped along by the sheer size of the cans.