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Alcoholic-energy drinks gone from Iowa shelves

BY ARIANA WITT | DECEMBER 03, 2010 7:20 AM

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Iowa has lost its Loko.

Thursday marked the final day stores across Iowa were allowed to sell the popular alcoholic-energy drinkĀ Four Loko, said Tonya Dusold, communications director for the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. Joose and Moonshot are other such products which must be gone from shelves as of today following a federal regulation, she said.

Sauce, a liquor store located at 108 E. College St. , displayed nothing but empty shelves where the colorful cans of the alcohol and caffeine sat prior to 5 p.m. Thursday.

The drinks might be gone from shelves, but they're taking up space in Iowa City refrigerators after drinkers stocked up in anticipation of their departure.

Lucas, a University of Iowa freshman who did not want his full name used because he is underage, said he had a friend buy a case of fruit-punch-flavored Four Loko at the beginning of November because he "knew the end was coming."

"I'm a sharing person, but [they're] mostly for me," he said.

Darin Aisenbrey, manager of Liquor Downtown, 315 S. Gilbert St., said the store's stock sold out as of Wednesday. The product sold well among customers since being introduced this summer, he said.

"Government intervention this time was the best solution," Aisenbrey said. "It was one of those necessary evils."

UI junior Ben De Leon said he'd tried both Joose and Four Loko a few times but isn't upset to see the drink go.

"They taste bad, and they're terrible for you," he said.

In a Nov. 14 press release, The Food and Drug Administration warned four companies that the caffeine the companies were adding to alcoholic drinks made them unsafe and ruled the caffeine must be removed from the products before they can be sold again.

Dusold said any products stores don't sell can be returned for a refund.

The FDA gave manufacturers 15 days to alter the drinks or halt distribution. Continuing to sell them in Iowa at this point would break federal law, Dusold said.

"In Iowa it's against the law for licenses to knowingly go against the federal government," she said. "That would be the case if the alcohol agency didn't enforce this."

If Four Loko and other similar alcoholic energy drinks were to return to the state minus the caffeine, Dusold said, they would be considered beers and the alcohol agency would not regulate sales for the products.

Any new formulas would have to first be approved by the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau, she said, which could take some time.

Despite purchasing the $40 case of 12 Four Lokos, Lucas said he thinks it's a good idea alcohol energy drinks were outlawed.

But he'll "savor" his stash while it lasts.


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