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Makers Pulling Caffeine From Four Loko

By Robbie Owens, CBS 11 News
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Cans of Four Loko are seen in the liquor department of a convenience store. (credit: Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Cans of Four Loko are seen in the liquor department of a convenience store. (credit: Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The manufacturer of popular caffeinated alcohol drink Four Loko has said it will remove the caffeine from its products, pulling the blend off the market just as the Food and Drug Administration is poised to ban it and products like it, possibly as early as Wednesday.

Phusion Projects said in a statement posted on its website Tuesday that the company will remove caffeine and two other ingredients from its products going forward. Four Loko contains 12 percent alcohol — one can contains as much as four cups of coffee and the alcohol equivalent of four beers.

The statement by the company’s three co-founders says they are taking this step after unsuccessfully trying to deal with what they called “a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.”

The statement did not mention several recent incidents in which students were hospitalized after drinking the beverage, including one North Texas girl who died in a car crash linked to Four Loko. The drink has already been banned in four states.

Four Loko has been especially popular with college students. “You get energy and drunk,” said Gonzaga University student Cara Shoemaker. “That’s why I think it was such a big thing, because everyone could party until 3-o’clock in the morning.”

“They are wide awake drunks,” said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. “Wide awake drunks on our highways, putting the rest of us at risk.”

The threat of a Four Loko ban has kept cash registers busy at convenience stores that sell the drink. College students near campuses nationwide are stocking up on Four Loko and other caffeinated alcoholic beverages before they become illegal to sell. “I would definitely say that there will be some people trying to get as many as they can before they’re gone,” said Shoemaker.

“We sold, maybe, 30 cases just this morning,” said Washington convenience store employee Joshua Harke.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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