FTC Looking At Complaints About Alcohol Content, Marketing of Four Loko

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reviewing complaints about the amount of alcohol in the sweet alcoholic drink Four Loko, and how it is marketed, the Associated Press reports.

The drink, sometimes called “blackout in a can,” gained national attention in 2010 after college students in New Jersey and Washington state were hospitalized after consuming the fruit-flavored malt liquor. Following warnings by the Food and Drug Administration, the drink’s manufacturer, Phusion Projects, removed caffeine from the drink.

Last fall, Phusion agreed to change the labels of the cans so that they state the drinks contain as much alcohol as four to five cans of beer. The company also agreed to redesign the can so that it can be resealed, and would not need to be finished in one sitting.

The changes came in response to pressure from the FTC. The government agency said Phusion falsely claimed that a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko contains the same amount of alcohol as one or two regular 12-ounce beers. Drinking a single can of Four Loko in one sitting constitutes binge drinking, according to the FTC.

The company did not admit to any wrongdoing, but said it would relabel the drinks to better inform its customers.

Before taking a final vote on the deal with Phusion, the FTC asked for public comment. According to the AP, more than 200 comments opposing the deal were received. Many people said the deal does not go far enough, and some asked for an outright ban on the drink. The FTC does not have the authority to outlaw Four Loko, the article notes. Only about a dozen comments expressed support for the deal with Phusion.

Last November, Attorneys General in 35 states and the San Francisco City Attorney asked the FTC to limit the amount of alcohol sold in a single-serving can. The move was aimed at reducing the amount of alcohol in Four Loko.

A final decision from the FTC on the Phusion deal is expected in the next several months, the article notes.

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