Nov. 11, 2010 /EIN Presswire/ – The market for alcohol-laced energy drinks is quickly losing sales energy, but not young buyers’ loyalty.

Washington has become the third state to ban alcohol-caffeine drinks, joining Michigan and Utah. Other states are considering total recalls, and in some states, such as Indiana, the state beverage retailers trade group has urged stores to pull the drinks from their shelves.

Official actions haven’t cooled enthusiasm for the drinks among college students, however. There’s evidence that in Washington young people are intercepting the banned drinks before they can be returned to the warehouse. One market near Gonzaga University in Spokane reported selling 30 cases of Four Loko within hours of the state’s announcement banning the product.

Four Loko is one of the drinks on the official hit list. Other popular drinks are Sparks and Joose. These drinks and others contain a mix of caffeine and alcohol. They have a variety of fruit flavors that mask the alcohol taste and include caffeine as a stimulant which can deceive drinkers about their level of inebriation.

College students in many parts of the U.S. have fallen ill after drinking the products. Nine partying Central Washington University students were hospitalized October 9.

According to a marketing analysis by Mintel International Group, 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds regularly consume energy drinks compared with 22 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds.

Phusion Projects LLC, the manufacturer of Four Loko says its beverage was not the only drink available at the Washington party and that those hospitalized were underage.

Phusion was formed in 2005 by three former college students from Ohio State University with the help of a loan from the Small Business Administration. It now distributes alcoholic beverages, including Four MaXed and Earthquake, in more than 45 states.

According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, substances added to food are illegal unless the FDA has approved them beforehand.

Four Loko is a 23.5 ounce drink that is 12 percent alcoholic. That’s equivalent to drinking six light beers combined with a tall Starbucks coffee.

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