The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission is banning alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine as an added ingredient, after concerns were raised about the drink Four Loko, a powerful drink that some college students had dubbed "blackout in a can."
The commission said today it was issuing an emergency regulation barring the sale of the beverages. The rule goes into effect immediately, and the beverages must be removed from store shelves today, the treasurer's office, which oversees the board, said in a statement.
"Public health and public safety are top priorities at the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission," Kim Gainsboro, the chairwoman of the board, said in the statement.
The US Food and Drug Administration warned four manufacturers of the drinks on Wednesday that the caffeine in the beverage was "an unsafe food additive."
Experts have raised concerns that he caffeine could mask some of the sensory cues that people normally rely on to determine how intoxicated they are. Drinking the beverages could lead to risky behaviors, the agency said.
"The FDA ruling clearly states that these beverages are not generally recognized as safe. Beginning today, retailers and other businesses licensed by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission may not sell, store, import or transport these products in Massachusetts," Gainsboro said.
Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, announced Tuesday it would remove the caffeine from its powerful drinks.
Packing several drinks' worth of alcohol and a jolt of caffeine into a single container, Four Loko was a potent and increasingly popular brew. Following high-profile cases in which college students in Washington and New Jersey were hospitalized after drinking the malt beverage at parties, administrators at schools across the region, including Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston College, warned that Four Loko's heady combination of alcohol and caffeine poses serious risks, the Globe reported earlier this month.
Globe reporter Peter Schworm tried Four Loko recently and said it was not only powerful, it tasted dreadful.
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