Reporting Trina Orlando
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The FDA is cracking down on alcoholic energy drinks including Four Loko, which is made right here in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Today, the FDA sent warning letters to four manufacturers, saying the caffeine added to their beverages is unsafe.
Four Loko is getting lots of attention because it contains all of the same ingredients as popular energy drinks with one unsafe addition, 12 percent alcohol content. If you read the fine print, you will see that it is made in Latrobe.
At Red’s Six Pack Shop in Latrobe, Four Loko is sold for just $4 per can — a bargain for those looking for a buzz.
“They say that one can is the equivalent to a six-pack of beer,” Shawn Dando of Red’s said.
Four Loko is made just down the road from Red’s at the City Brewing Company facility.
The controversial beverage has been thrust into the national spotlight in recent months as the FDA cracks down on alcoholic energy drinks.
“It is outrageous, just ’cause it’s an energy drink and alcohol, so it’s also really cheap, which is why I think it reaches out so much to our age group,” college student Allison Rupp said.
The FDA says a high alcohol content of 12 percent combined with caffeine is a dangerous duo.
“It kept me, like, awake, which was cool, while I was still drinking. So, I mean, it works,” college student Julia Aughenbaugh said.
Tuesday, Four Loko maker Phusion Projects announced that it would reformulate its recipe to comply with increasing pressure from federal regulators.
The new recipe will eliminate caffeine, guarana and taurine — the main ingredients in energy drinks.
“I think it kind of takes the point away from it, ’cause it’s supposed to be, like, an energy drink that is also an alcoholic drink, and you know, instead of just going to a bar and getting, like, a Red Bull and vodka, you can just grab this can and go on your merry way,” Aughenbaugh said.
The plant controller at City Brewing said contracts with individual companies forbid him from commenting on any of the products made at the plant. However, he did say that Four Loko is just one of several beverages made at the Latrobe plant and there is no reason to believe any jobs would be affected.