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Phusion Projects, LLC, the makers of the malt beverage drink Four Loko, has been ordered by the FTC to change their labeling to better reflect the true alcohol content in the drink’s fruity flavored, brightly-colored 23.5 ounce can.

Phusion Projects had been accused of deceptive advertising by claiming that a 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko contains the alcohol equivalent of one or two beers, and that it was safe to drink an entire Four Loko in one sitting.

The FTC determined that the alcohol content was closer to that in four or five beers. The new labeling will need to show alcohol by volume and the number of servings on any container that includes two or more servings. Also, multi-servings cans will need to be re-sealable.

The FTC handles issues of unfair or deceptive business practices, but will their decisions have an effect on how Four Loko is consumed? Will drinkers of Four Loco stop to calculate if the amount of alcohol they are consuming is unhealthy, and cap the bottle once that limit is reached?


If a young adult female drinks an entire can of Four Loco, they can be considered as having engaged in binge drinking. According to the CDC, binge drinking for females occurs when 4 or more alcoholic drinks are consumed in one sitting, and has become a serious health issue with 1 in 8 women over the age of 18 engaging in binge drinking 3 or more times per month. For men, binge drinking is considered to be 5 or more drinks being consumed on a single occasion.

Judging by Four Loko’s Facebook page and company websites like, the target market is definitely the younger adult drinker, with pictures of beach-going spring breakers and product descriptions like, “The craziest taste of lemon on the planet, vigorously squeezed into a thirst quenching blowout that will leave you craving more of this smooth loko classic.” This is not the language of restraint.

Phusion Projects denies a connection between Four Loco and binge drinking and points out on their website that cans of Four Loco are the same size as many other products on the market, are the highest priced in their category, and that the alcohol by volume is comparable or lower than that of many craft beers, wines, and spirits. They also deny that their product is marketed to underage consumers and state that the serious problems of underage drinking and alcohol abuse “will not be solved by arbitrarily singling out specific products or an alcoholic beverage category. The answer lies in increased education, stronger enforcement of existing laws, and personal responsibility.”

What do you think? Will changing the labeling and packing translate into more responsible drinking by younger drinkers?

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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