More changes are on the way for Four Loko – but this time the changes aren’t on the inside, but on the outside. With charges from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) looming on the horizon, parent company Phusion Projects LLC has consented to change its labels to more accurately describe the amount of alcohol contained in each can.
If you’ve been keeping up with pop culture over the past few years, you’re probably familiar with the saga of Four Loko. Phusion Projects first came under fire last year for the four key components that gave Four Loko its name: alcohol, caffeine, taurine, and guarana, ingredients that tend to lead to some level ten loco times when mixed together in high doses. The company responded by removing the caffeine, taurine, and guarana from its products – leaving nothing but a malt beverage with an array of sticky sweet flavors and a staggering alcohol content.
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But that alcohol content is precisely what the FTC is focusing on now. According to reports, the FTC claims that Phusion Projects erroneously promotes Four Loko’s 23.5oz cans as containing the same amount of alcohol as one or two normal cans of beer. While this is true enough with versions containing 6% ABV, many Four Loko products are in the 11-12% ABV range – making them more like the equivalent of four or five 12oz beers. That can be critically dangerous for inexperienced college-aged kids, Four Loko’s main demographic and the one most at risk for binge drinking – and it’s something the FTC wants Phusion to make clear for consumers on their beverage labels.
Phusion Projects released a statement asserting that its business practices are not deceptive, but that the company has agreed to comply with the FTC’s requests nonetheless. "We don’t share the FTC’s perspective and we disagree with their allegations,” said Phusion co-founder Jaisen Freeman in the statement. “We don’t believe there were any violations. However, 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.”