FTC mandates Four Loko face 'Alcoholic Facts'

This week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a modified order against Phusion Projects, addressing false claims made by the company about its popular malt beverage, Four Loko.

Frat boys across the country will have to recalculate their beer-consumption bragging rights. This week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a modified order against Phusion Projects addressing false claims made by the company about its popular malt beverage, Four Loko.

The company must slap an “Alcoholic Facts” label on the drink, stating that the 23.5-ounce can contains the alcoholic equivalent of four to five beers, rather than one to two beers, as the company originally claimed, reports NPR. The label changes, which will go into effect after they're approved by the Department of Treasury's Alcohol, and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, settle the FTC's deceptive marketing charges against Phusion Projects.

The National Consumers League toasts the ruling on its website. “We thank the FTC for its strong enforcement action that serves the interests of consumers in several important ways,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. “It is important that consumers are fully aware of how much alcohol they are consuming when they choose a beverage. NCL and other consumer groups have been working for years to get more information about nutritional facts and alcohol content included on these products.”

In related news, the New York Times reports that prepared foods aren't always what they seem. In independent testing featured in a tasty little video, Chipotle and Starbucks items packed more calories than promised while Subway came in under its caloric claims. Jared, apparently, knows his math. Savvy consumers are not surprised, however, having learned the truth about labeling in 1993, with Seinfeld's “Non-Fat Yogurt Episode.” (“My whole life is a lie.” -George Costanza)

As potent as Four Loko is today, the drink packs far less of a wallop than it did in its original incarnation, which included caffeine, taurine and guarana. The company removed the stimulants in 2010, as the FTC bellied up to the (legal) bar for a crackdown on drinks that blend stimulants and alcohol.

The FTC order also mandates that Four Loko cans be redesigned so they are re-sealable, to remind fans that they need not chug the entire can in one round of beer pong. Theoretically, they may nurse a can during a multi-day tourney.

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