The Federal Trade Commission put alcohol/caffeine combo beverage Four Loko and others like it on notice that it was on the agency’s radar screen for marketing a potentially dangerous product. Now it has directly attacked a Four Loko marketing claim and forced it to alter its labeling on supersized 23.5 ounce containers of the product.
According to the FTC, Four Loko is a fruit-flavored, caffeinaged and carbonated malt beverage with alcohol content in the 11%-12% range.
However, its manufacturer, Phusion Products LLC, has advertised that drinking the super-sized 23.5 ounce version is like having a beer or two.
FTC says it’s more like have four or five beers, and consuming that much in the space of two hours falls within the definition of binge drinking. To make matters worse, the manufacturers suggest that retailers stock it alongside other single-serving large-sized beers. Further, the Four Loko containers are not resealable, further reinforcing the idea that they are to be consumed in a single sitting.
“Deception about alcohol content is dangerous to consumers, and it’s a serious concern for the FTC,” said David Vladeck, Director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four or five beers, but it is marketed as a single-serving beverage.”
Going forward, the product’s packaging must state that it contains alcohol equivalent to four normal 12-ounce beers, and all containers must be resealable.
RBR-TVBR observation: We would guess that the makers of Four Loko are getting off fairly easy on this one – the FTC says it is making false claims about its product, and the fact that it is in the politically sensitive alcoholic beverage zone makes it perhaps a little surprising that the FTC’s action here wasn’t a little more forceful.