Four Loko Pressured Into Changing Its Label
Mix four to five beers and a tall Starbucks coffee, and what do you get?
A can of Four Loko.
Or at least this was true before November of last year; in November 2010, the popular energy drink removed the caffeine from its contents in an attempt to appeal to the safety concerns of the public and organizations such as the FDA -- but today the negativity surrounding the effects of the now-decaffeinated drink still continues:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asserts that the current labeling techniques of Phusion Projects, the maker of the beverage, are both misrepresentative and deceptive; the claim that a typical can of Four Loko contains the same amount of alcohol as one or two bottles of beer, the FTC states, is false. Rather, a typical can contains the same alcoholic content as four to five 12-ounce beers.
Although Phusion Projects denies that there were any violations of FTC disclosure requirements in its labeling, the company has agreed to change the label to meet the demands of regulators.
“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,” said Jaisen Freemon, co-founder of the company, in an emailed statement.
The label will now read "this can has as much alcohol as 4 regular (12 oz. 5 percent alc/vol) beers." In addition, the can will come in a re-sealable bottle as to discourage consumers from consuming the entire beverage in one setting.
The ability to make the “informed decisions” that Jaisen Freemon mentions is, quite literally, a vital one to the safety of the public, as teenagers have been especially known to face fatal consequences due to overindulgence in these types of drinks. Several grave incidents—such as the death of a 15-year-old in Centreville, VA who drank two cans of Four Loko and sat down in the middle of a dark road—have led to legal actions against Phusion Projects in the past. Prior to that, in November 2010, a Florida family also sued the company after their son drank three cans and ended up shooting himself.
The latter incident occurred before the company decided to remove the caffeine from its contents, and was a major factor in its decision to do so. According to the FDA, the addition of caffeine in alcoholic beverages is a “public health concern,” as it conceals the body’s indications of its natural limits of alcohol consumption, causing drinkers to unknowingly overindulge. Even without the addition of caffeine, consumers need to carefully regulate their consumption of drinks with high alcoholic content.
The agreement between Phusion Projects and the FTC to change the label and seal of the Four Loko beverage is subject to a 30-day comment period before going into effect.
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