Give Them a Break
If there has ever been a drink to garner enough media attention and debate over the safety of its consumption that the drink goes form “hero to zero” in a matter of months, that drink has to be Four Loko.
Recently, the FDA and law enforcement officials, as well as several states, have taken steps to ban the malt-liquor-caffeinated drink from being distributed (sold). Phusion Project, the Chicago-based manufacturer of Four Loko, received a warning letter from the FDA and agreed to remove the caffeine from their product in order to prevent the FDA from blocking their product completely. Four Loko has been blamed for the recent event which led to the hospitalization of nine Central Washington University undergraduates due to over consumption of Four Loko and other liquors. According to scientists, the addition of caffeine in alcohol and can be very dangerous because the caffeine can take away the usual drowsiness and relaxation that comes with normal drinking, and can therefore lead to overdrinking. Phusion Projects should not be held accountable for actions of consumers; which are out of their control. No matter what, adults and young adults are going to mix alcohol with caffeine, it doesn’t matter whether or not the drink is prepackaged, the beverage will be out.
Companies cannot be held responsible for the irresponsible actions of consumers (which are often underage drinkers) because they are ultimately responsible for themselves. Take big tobacco companies for example; they are well known for the manufacturing and distribution of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco based products. It is also well known that smoking can lead to lung cancer and potential brain damage (impairment). Despite knowing this and despite the many scientific studies supporting this evidence, the FDA does nothing. The regulation of the sale of tobacco products is basically the same as the alcohol drinking age regulation. Even though they are different, they represent the same thing; both alcohol and tobacco are restricted to the public until such time that society thinks it is a good age for people to make their own decisions.
Why is it then, that big tobacco companies continue profiting over the sale of their harmful products? How is it different? Why does the tobacco industry get the “luxury” of continuing the sale of cigarettes to the public and allowing the public to make the decision to smoke or not smoke? This is bias. Phusion projects has the right, the same say as any other company, to continue selling their product, as originally formulated, and allowing the public to make their own conscious decisions. In the long run, the ban on caffinated-alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko is pointless. No matter if it is prepackaged or not, the drinks will be out there, with just as much, if not, more potent ingredients that can result in something very bad. The idea for this drink (Four Loko) had to come from somewhere, and it did. In 2005, three Ohio state students came up with Four Loko after noticing that students were combining alcohol and caffeine at bars.
So you see, the mixing and combination of these two ingredients has been going on well before the making of Four Loko. The banning and the restrictions on the drink might prevent some college students and under aged drinkers from harming themselves or others, but it does nothing to improve people’s judgment or otherwise empower them to protect themselves. It is understandable why one might think that the manufacture is as much responsible for their product as the consumer is for his/her actions. Yes, ingredients that have been known to be dangerous when combined together have been introduced into Four Loko, but consumption of this beverage, in correct quantities, can show to be very safe. Even though the manufacture is responsible for noticing a flaw in safety of their product, it is both the job and the choice of distributors of the product to keep selling it.
The alcoholic beverage with a caffeine kick briefly captured the hearts of America’s youth. Then came the crackdown. There is no need, and no point, for the ban against the original formulation of Four Loko simply because American citizens should be allowed to decide for themselves between what they want to drink and what they don’t; they shouldn’t be parented by the government. Unfair pressure by the FDA has led to the reformulation of Phusion Project’s product, which could potentially lead to the decline of sales. Every company has the right to the distribution of their product and it is bias if this is an exception.