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Sunday, November 28, 2021

It's been called a "blackout in a can."

Drinking its contents is about the equivalent of downing two-thirds of a bottle of wine plus a Red Bull or two.

Four Loko, along with other alcoholic energy drinks, is under fire from UF toxicology professor Bruce Goldberger, who calls for the ban of all alcoholic energy drinks.

"We all believe there's no place in the market for these beverages," he said. "Since the publication of [a letter Goldberger wrote to the FDA] and the investigation of the FDA, there have been instances of serious injury and death associated with the consumption of an alcoholic energy drink."

Ramapo College of New Jersey decided last week to outlaw the drink altogether, even penalizing students who are 21 and older for having the drink on campus.

Goldberger said the drinks increase risky behavior and are particularly dangerous because they are marketed toward a younger, less mature audience.

The nature of the drink has created a lot of buzz, attracting college students who appreciate the $2.59 price tag.

To capitalize on the popularity of the drink, the drinks are now sold at the Neon Liger dance party at Spannk on Saturday nights.

"It's honestly just because it's a popularity thing," said DJ Vijay Seixas, who runs the event. "It's in the news - it's everywhere. Four Loko right now is hot. There's a lot of news about it, good and bad. It's the best time to carry it."

Seixas said he doesn't drink it because it tastes bad, but he gets why others do.

"People want to get junked as cheap as they can, and it's one way to do it," he said. "It's the best of both worlds. It's like having upwards and downwards. You're getting drunk, but you also get a boost of energy."

Seixas said he would not agree with a ban on the drink because he believes that any large amount of alcohol, regardless of the caffeine content, would cause irresponsible behavior.

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UF pharmacology professor Paul Doering said he agrees that it is mainly the excessive amount of alcohol contained in alcoholic energy drinks that causes extreme behavior.

"My major concern is that the caffeine would allow a person to stay awake longer and consume more alcohol than they would otherwise," Doering said.

Doering said that the large amount of alcohol contained in one of these drinks could cause people, especially those who chug drinks, to overdo it.

"They can easily lose track of the quantity of alcohol that's ingested, and if they drink that rapidly, it can creep up on a person and ambush them somewhere along the way," he said.


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