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FDA warns 4 energy-drink makers against adding caffeine to beverages

Four Loko has up to 12 percent alcohol content and 156 milligrams of caffeine per can. One can is equivalent to about five cans of beer in terms of alcohol content.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday warned four alcoholic energy-drink makers that their beverages are unsafe.

The regulatory body revealed that adding caffeine to the malt alcoholic beverages is “unsafe food additive," as caffeine is known to mask the effects of alcohol.

The manufacturers have been given 15 days to either stop adding caffeine to the beverages or stop selling them completely.

The drinks are a "public health concern," said Joshua M. Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

"Consumers should avoid these caffeinated alcoholic beverages, which do not meet the FDA's standards for safety."

High levels of alcohol content
The four companies warned by the FDA include Phusion Projects, maker of Four Loko; Charge Beverages, maker of Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange and Lemon Lime Core Spiked; New Century Brewing, maker of Moonshot; and United Brands, which makes Joose and Max.

The products are carbonated malt beverages, containing high levels of alcohol and fruit essence, officials reveal.

In response to the warning, Phusion Projects has agreed to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine from its beverages.

Four Loko has up to 12 percent alcohol content and 156 milligrams of caffeine per can. One can is equivalent to about five cans of beer in terms of alcohol content.

"It's pretty clear by the amount of people showing up in emergency rooms that mixing caffeine with alcohol has health risks that are bigger than just caffeine or just alcohol," said Kimberly Dennis, medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in Chicago.

"I think the FDA saying something about it helps people recognize the risk and helps society in general come out of denial."

Response to warning
In response to the warning, Phusion Projects has agreed to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine from its beverages.

As of now, the complete production and shipment of the company’s products has been halted.

"We are taking this step after trying — unsuccessfully — to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels," the company said in a statement.

Also, several colleges across the country have banned the drink as several students fell sick after consuming the beverage.