February 19, 2019  Last Update: November 27, 2017, 8:52 pm

FTC Says: Four Loko is still TOO BIG

Four Loko original can

Four Loko cans as initially displayed on Four Drinks Brewing Company Website

Did you know the FTC considers consuming an entire can of Four Loko on a single occasion to be “binge drinking”?

Phusion, the maker of extreme-alcohol drink Four Loko and others, has been told that its cans are too big to be compared to “regular” sized drinks, and therefore the % alcohol labeling is inadequate and may be illegal. An FTC complaint piled on a prior FDA warning about the inclusion of stimulants in the alcoholic beverage, and Phusion Products has agreed to settle this complaint and change its packaging.

"One can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four to five 12-ounce cans of regular beer and is not safe to drink on a single occasion. Consuming a single can of Four Loko on a single occasion constitutes ‘binge drinking,’ which is defined by health officials as men drinking five (and women drinking four) or more standard alcoholic drinks in about two hours"

Four Loko made headlines in 2009 as a high-alcohol drink that also contained caffeine and other stimulants, while sporting extra-large sized 23.5 oz single use cans that the company reportedly encouraged retailers to place next to other single-serving drinks. Four Loko earned the street titles “black out in a can”and “liquid cocaine”, and has been blamed for at least one death. In New Jersey, 16 college students were hospitalized after partying with Four Loko. Sunrise Detox, an alcohol detox center close to the college, raised alarms about the dangers of making binge drinking easier than it already is by masking the depressive effects of alcohol with stimulants. Utah was the first state to ban the sale of alcoholic energy drinks. Michigan, California, Montana and Washington State also quickly restricted access or banned the retail sale of energy drinks with alcohol.

Four Loko Warning Label - high alcohol content

The FTC wants Four Loko to sport a new label like this, clearly indicating the relative amount of alcohol in Four Loko.

The latest FTC complaint focused on can size and marketing labels that compared service sizes to beer. The FDA and FTC complaints cited the inclusion of stimulants in alcoholic products as “dangerous”, and the FDA ruled that caffeine was an “unsafe food additive” when added to alcoholic drinks. The energy drink industry went through reformulation in 2010 as a result of the FDA ruling.

According to the Four Drink Brewing Company website, Four Loko has already created resealable cans four Four Loko, which may get around one of the FTC complaints.In other news, the Vodka Red Bull and the Irish Whiskey remain popular at the local tavern. In fact, a 2009 survey of most consumed alcohol in Washington State (prior to the peak in popularity for over-the-counter alcoholic energy drinks) showed an inexpensive Vodka at number one. The report specifically cited the Vodka-Red Bull energy drink mix as one reason:

The college kids mostly drink vodka/Red Bull, either mixed or drop the shot glass of vodka into a pint glass or Red Bull (or some other energy drink). This gives them both the courage, and the energy to mix with the opposite sex

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