On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration issued letters of warning to four manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks, including the popular, controversial beverage Four Loko. The FDA cautioned the manufacturers that they have 15 days to respond to the warnings, after which the FDA may begin seizing products from stores. While the move isn't being called a ban, per se, it's an unmistakable warning shot at Four Loko and similar drinks--and it comes just a day after Four Loko removed the caffeine from its own recipe, in what was widely seen as an attempt to skirt FDA censure. The FDA's crackdown has been greeted with much eye-rolling from the left and right alike.
Anyone for a Nice Cool Glass of Nanny State? At the Daily News, Elie Mystal rolls his eyes at the FDA. "It's not like Four Loko cracked some secret code to intoxication that's never before been understood by modern scientists. Kids are going to find a way to be drunk and awake at the same time," Mystal writes. "Teaching kids when to say 'I've had enough' is the only way to protect them. Yet evidently, many parents would rather run to the government instead of having that conversation with their children."
The FDA Just Hates That This Was Marketed to Kids Jacob Sullum at Reason wonders why the FDA only targeted four companies, when there are at least 10 that manufacture alcoholic energy drinks. Perusing the warning letters, Sullum concludes that "the main factor distinguishing the companies that made the FDA's list from the ones that didn't is marketing... In short, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage targeted at 'young adults' is 'adulterated,' while exactly the same beverage targeted at middle-aged drinkers is not. The FDA is not really banning drinks; it is censoring speech."
Don't Ban, Monetize! E. D. Kain at Balloon Juice points out that "banning things that many people want (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc.) doesn't work – taxing things, on the other hand, can help quite a bit. So by all means, put a sin tax on Four Loko and make it prohibitively expensive if we're really worried about binge drinkers."
This Makes As Much Sense as Anything Else, figures Allahpundit at Hot Air: "I've lost the plot on state/federal policy towards health and hazardous substances. For instance, it's okay to ban sugary drinks — but only for consumers who are on food stamps. It's not okay to ban cigarettes, but it's okay to put photos of corpses on the packs to discourage people from buying them. For caffeine/alcohol blends, it's okay to ban 'em straightaway; no need to bother with a picture on the can of a kid ralphing on himself or whatever, which I guess makes them the beverage equivalent of Happy Meals."
- This Is Actually the Best Thing for Everyone Drew Grant at Crushable takes a lonely stance in support of the FDA's decision. "Despite the protests of some hopped-up commenters, we were not sad to see Four Loko go to the great energy drink pool in the sky. That stuff was dangerous!"
There's a Run on Loko! Hayley Peterson for The Washington Examiner reports that "Four Loko is disappearing from store shelves faster than ever" in D.C. Peterson quotes a liquor store clerk who says that "just today we sold 10 cases... I think the news is helping sales." Meanwhile, Nick Murray at The Village Voice reports on a "protest and/or vigil" held in New York's Union Square. "A few mourners stepped forward to share their Four Loko stories," writes Murray. "'Every time I drank a Four Loko, something terrible happened,' one said, then, when the applause settled, concluded, 'And each time, I grew from it.' A less enthusiastic round of applause followed."