Four Loko Ordered to Change Its Package Labeling

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Four Loko Ordered to Change Its Package Labeling


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Four Loko is changing the look of its cans to settle the government's charges of deceptive marketing.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is requiring the makers of the carbonated alcoholic drink, Phusion Projects LLC, to put an "alcohol facts panel" on the back of its cans containing more than two servings of alcohol and to seek approval of that label from the U.S. Department of Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

In addition, Phusion Projects will also have to redesign cans of drinks that contain more than 2.5 servings of alcohol so they can be resealed, which would discourage the consumer from drinking the entire can in one sitting.

"We share a common interest with the FTC in providing consumers with information and packaging options to help them make informed, responsible decisions," said Jaisen Freeman, co-founder of Chicago-based Phusion Projects.

Initially, the FTC was going to require the company to provide a label disclosure on products with more than 2.5 servings of alcohol. The agency was flooded with complaints, however, which led it to lower the disclosure trigger to two servings.

As CSNews Online previously reported, the FTC previously alleged that Phusion Projects had falsely claimed that a 23.5-ounce, 11- to 12-percent ABV can of Four Loko contains the alcohol equivalent to one or two regular 12-ounce beers and that it is safe to consume on a single occasion, when it actually contains the alcohol equivalent of four or five regular 12-ounce beers. According to the FTC, drinking just one can of Four Loko on a single occasion qualifies as binge drinking.

On Nov. 17, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Phusion Projects, as well as three other manufacturers of caffeinated malt beverages, declaring the beverages unsafe. The warning came after Four Loko -- referred to by some as blackout in a can -- was linked to a series of incidents that year in which people were either hospitalized or died.

"On Nov. 16, 2010, prior to the FDA’s letter, we voluntarily reformulated Four Loko by removing caffeine, guarana, or taurine," stated Phusion Projects. "We began producing the reformulated version of Four Loko on Nov. 18, 2010.  No shipments of our products containing caffeine from Phusion’s production facilities were made after Nov. 17, 2010.  We were pleased that the FDA commended us on Nov. 24, 2010, for our decision to voluntarily reformulate our products."