Over the past few months, there has been much media attention on popular caffeinated malt beverages like Four Loko. However, researchers, policy makers, and health professionals have expressed concern over caffeinated malt beverages and mixed energy drinks for several years. Since the introduction of energy drinks to the United States such as Red Bull in 1997 and its subsequent use as a mixer for hard alcohol, there is a growing body of research evidence indicating that mixing alcohol with high levels of caffeine and other substances contained in energy drinks is unsafe. Policy makers are also concerned about the inappropriate marketing of these beverages to a younger audience. Although Four Loko is the center of recent controversy, there are several other beverages on the market with similar alcohol and caffeine content (Joose, Max), as well as highly caffeinated beverages often used to mix with alcohol (e.g., Red Bull, Monster) that have the potential for abuse.
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