For some reason, the makers of Four Loko have been downplaying the amount of alcohol in their big, candy-colored cans. And so today, as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the makers of Four Loko agreed to new labeling that will more accurately let buyers know just how drunk they can get on a single can.
The FTC alleges that Four Loko has, through its packaging and marketing implied that one 23.5 oz can of the drink only contains as much alcohol as 1-2 cans of beer.
But, writes the FTC:
In fact… 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.
Jaisen Freeman, co-founder, Phusion Projects, LLC, defends his product to Consumerist in the following statement:
Four Loko’s labeling and marketing has never stated that the cans were the equivalent of 1-2 beers. Our labeling has always clearly conveyed exactly what’s in the can in bold, capital letters – 23.5 ounces and 12 percent ABV.
“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.”
The settlement requires the makers of Four Loko to include disclosures stating how much alcohol — compared to the amount of alcohol found in regular beer — is in the drink.
For example, the disclosure for a 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko with 12% alcohol by volume would state: “This can has as much alcohol as 4.5 regular (12 oz. 5% alc/vol) beers.”
Within six months after this settlement takes effect, the makers of Four Loko are also required to use only resealable containers for flavored malt beverages that have more alcohol than the equivalent of two and a half regular beers.
It was almost one year ago that Four Loko removed caffeine from its recipe in order to remain on store shelves, after lawmakers and the FDA raised concerns about the tendency for people to drink too much alcohol when mixed with caffeine.