Jacob Sullum at Reason Magazine takes a look at recent coverage overhyping some kind of “threat” posed by alcoholic beverages spiked with caffiene:
Until last week, the main hazard of caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Joose, Torque, and Four Loko was supposed to be that they keep you alert even when you’re drunk, so that you underestimate your inebriation and are more inclined to engage in risky behavior. But now, thanks to the faux-sober reporting of ABC News, we know you also might drop dead from a heart attack the first time you try one of these drinks, even if you’re a strapping 19-year-old …
Yet by ABC’s own account, a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko has 156 milligrams of caffeine—as much as a cup and a half of (pretty weak) coffee. Ounce by ounce, in fact, Four Loko has less caffeine than coffee: 6.6 mg per ounce, compared to 8.3 mg per ounce for McDonald’s coffee, around 18 mg per ounce for store-bought drip coffee, and 50 mg per ounce for espresso. I cannot recall an ABC News story about the heart-attack risk posed by a 16-ounce Starbucks Grande Latte, which has as much caffeine as a can of Four Loko (or, assuming the combination of caffeine and alcohol is especially hazardous to the heart, the public health threat posed by Irish coffee).
ABC is also worried about the alcoholic content of Four Loko. At 12 percent, it is about as strong as wine. But it sounds scarier if you say, as ABC does, that “you’d have to drink almost six cans of Bud Light beer, or 67.2 ounces, to get the same amount of alcohol” as you get from a can of Four Loko. In truth, though, drinking six cans of Bud Light (or even one) sounds scary in any context.
So a kid drinks one of these drinks, dies of a heart attack, no one knows why, and the drink is to blame. So the FDA wants to ban them or something. Presumably because it can.
I think they confused Four Loko with this: