COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - Banned alcoholic beverages are back on the market, but with a new twist.
In November, the Federal Drug Administration ruled that alcoholic energy drinks such as Four Loko were unsafe.
Store owners were supposed to take these drinks off the shelves, but now they are starting to reappear.
"As a restaurant and a bar owner, we have certain liabilities," said Michael Smith, who is visiting Palm Desert from Orange County. "But when it comes down to the alcohol itself, it's definitely up to the consumer."
The side panel of the old version of Four Loko clearly shows that the beverage contains alcohol and caffeine.
The new version looks virtually the same: same colors, type and font, but there is no mention of caffeine.
After the FDA announced it's ruling, warning letters were sent to four companies that make the cotroversial drinks.
The manufacturers behind Joose, Tilt and Four Loko agreed to continue selling their products excluding caffeine.
"Obviously, I'd like to see the government working with small businesses, especially in these times," said Smith.
The Arco Station at Portola and Highway 111 in Palm Desert is still selling mixed-alcoholic malt beverages.
The same goes for the 7-Eleven just a few blocks down the street.
But both are selling the legal versions.
"It's not selling as much because they're saying it's not the flavor," said Bill Mubarka, the manager of Monterey Palms Market and Liquor in Rancho Mirage.
Mubarka has restocked its shelves with the new, legal drinks.
"I have every right to carry it, but I don't (know if) I'll keep selling it or not," he said. "Most likely, I will take it off the shelf.
One 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko contains a 12-percent volume of alcohol, which is equal to three cans of beer, according to health officials.
The FDA began investigating the controversial drinks when more and more people across the country started showing up sick at hospitals.
The combination of alcohol with caffeine can leave the consumer feeling like they're not drunk until it's too late, according to health officials.
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