Modified Four Loko Back on Store Shelves in Washington

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Just weeks after being pulled off the shelves in Washington and Oregon, a stripped-down version of the Four Loko drink is making its way back on store shelves, KATU News reported.

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a crackdown on the sale of high-amp energy drinks in November, the makers of Four Loko removed the caffeine and two other stimulants. The Washington State Liquor Control Board approved the change Dec. 8.

Oregon also banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages in November, however it was not known whether the modified Four Loko was approved there as well, according to the report.

The drinks that used to have added caffeine now simply read "malt liquor" on the side.

Convenience store owner Sonny Salha said he lost 4 percent of his overall sales from the ban. Now that the drinks are back, so are his sales, which have returned to pre-ban levels.

"Four Loko does sell itself...," Salha said. "(Customers) were curious when they banned it. Now they're more curious it came back."

As for the old Four Loko, it’s now set to be guzzled by cars. Wholesalers from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and other East Coast states have started sending cases of the drink to MXI Environmental Services a waste-management company with plans to turn the high-alcohol, caffeinated malt beverages into ethanol, according to Associated Press reports.

"We’re equipped to process four truckloads a day, and we’re at full capacity," said Brian Potter, vice president of operations at MXI’s facility in Abingdon, Va. "There are about 30 different products involved, and we’ve only seen a couple of them at this point."

Once the beverages are distilled into ethanol, the ethanol then can be sold as fuel to be blended up to 15 percent with gasoline. The recyclers said the process could take months.

For more on the controversial Four Loko ban, check out the discussion happening within the Convenience Store News Magazine group on LinkedIn.

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