October 4, 2011
FTC Tells Maker Of Four Loko To Change Labels
Four Loko, a supersized malt beverage made by Phusion Projects, LLC, is accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of misinformation on their labels. Phusion advertises Four Loko as being the alcoholic equivalent of one or two beers, but because the drink is in a 23½ ounce can, it is actually equivalent to about four to five beers, according to Reuters. Recently Four Loko had the caffeine removed from its ingredients.
David Vladeck, the director of the FTC´s Bureau of Consumer Protection told Reuters, “Deception about alcohol content is dangerous to consumers, and it´s a serious concern for the FTC.”
Phusion Projects told Reuters in response to the FTC´s charges, “Even though we reached an agreement, we don´t share the FTC´s perspective and we disagree with their allegations. However, we take legal compliance very seriously and we share the FTC´s interest in making sure consumers get all the information and tools they need to make smart, informed decisions.”
The crackdown on labeling of sweet malt beverages comes on the heels of the deaths of several teenagers across the nation in recent years. One such incident involved the tragic death of Johnny “Bo” Rupp of Centreville, Virginia, whose family has recently filed a lawsuit against Phusion Projects, LLC. According to the Washington Post, the boy attended the Jiffy Lube Live country music concert where he had been consuming the beverage. Security at the concert noticed he was acting strangely and called his parents to pick him up. When they arrived home, the boy jumped from the car and ran off into the night where he eventually wandered onto a road where he was struck by a car.
Jeffrey Simon mentions that the caffeine in the alcoholic beverage made it difficult for the boy to pass out, where he would have stopped drinking. He said, “You´re supposed to pass out. That´s the body´s way of saying: “Stop!”
Four Loko, despite its content size, is marketed as a single serving of the beverage. The FTC claims that one entire can of the drink is the equivalent of binge drinking. The giant can is not resealable and encourages the drinker to consume the full volume in one sitting.
To stay in compliance with the FTC, the company has agreed to label its cans in how the alcohol content compares to a regular 12 ounce beer. This label is only required on Phusion Projects products that contain more than 23½ ounces of beverage.
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