Starting today, new restrictions will be placed on the amount of alcohol allowed in premixed drinks. The federal health minister’s office revealed in an email to CBC that the new alcoholic pre-mixed drink restrictions in Canada officially take effect today. Premixed sugary beverage brands, such as FCKD UP and FOUR LOKO, will no longer be able to contain up to 11.9 percent alcohol, equal to four alcoholic beverages. Instead, they will be restricted to 4.5 percent, thanks to the new regulations set into motion by Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
Taylor directed Health Canada last year to take immediate action to reduce the alcohol content of these beverages, citing their harmful effects:
"Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for our Government. I am deeply concerned by the increasing availability and appeal of single-serve highly sweetened, high-alcohol beverages and by the increasing number of youth admitted to hospital after drinking these products," she stated at the time in a Health Canada press release.
"I have instructed my Department to take all necessary action to address this issue, through both regulations and consultations with provinces and territories as well as stakeholders. It is my expectation that the industry will also come forward with interim measures to help us ensure the safety of young Canadians,” she continued.
The fight for new regulations first launched after 14-year-old Athena Gervais from Quebec was found dead three days after being reported missing. Gervais was found in a stream behind the school she attended in Laval.
The high school student reportedly drank several cans of “FCKD UP” with her friends during a lunch break on the day of her disappearance. A coroner concluded that high-alcohol and sugar-content contributed to the girl’s death. The coroner also found that, in just 30 minutes, Gervais and her friends consumed the equivalent of 12 glasses of wine, reports CBC.
Investigators also discovered that Gervais returned from the break visibly drunk and that she did not attend the rest of her classes.
Gervais was not the only tragedy linked to the drinks to hit Quebec. According to CBC, 30-year-old Pierre Parent from Drummondville died last Christmas after combining two FOUR LOKO drinks with caffeine and cold medicine.