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Four Loko: Can it avoid an FDA ban?

Four Loko, a caffeinated alcoholic drink, said Tuesday it would remove the caffeine from its beverage. The FDA may announce a ban on the blend today.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (at podium) in Olympia talks about the Nov. 10 decision to ban alcoholic energy drinks, including "Four Loko" and "Joose."

Ted S. Warren/AP

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The manufacturer of popular caffeinated alcohol drink Four Loko said Tuesday it will remove the caffeine from its products, pulling the blend off the market just as the Food and Drug Administration is poised to ban it.

Phusion Projects said in a statement posted on its website that the company will remove caffeine and two other ingredients from its products going forward.

The announcement came as the FDA is expected to find as early as Wednesday that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic drinks. That finding essentially would ban Four Loko and other drinks like it.

The FDA ruling "should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks," Sen. Chuck Schumer, who has pushed the Obama administration to ban the beverages, said Tuesday.

Federal regulators would not confirm Schumer's announcement that a ban was imminent, but Four Loko's statement suggests the company believed it had little choice but to reformulate its drinks.

The statement by the company's three co-founders said they were removing caffeine from the drinks after unsuccessfully trying to deal with what they called "a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels."

"We have repeatedly contended – and still believe, as do many people throughout the country ó that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe," said Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman, who identify themselves as Phusion's three co-founders and current managing partners.

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