For four years, more than 20 state attorneys general have been working to ensure infamous malt-liquor beverage Four Loko isn't marketed to anyone under the age of 21. Now, a settlement has been reached in the lawsuit against Four Loko maker Phusion Projects, which voluntarily removed caffeine from the beverage in 2010 after the FDA banned stimulants in any alcoholic drinks on the market. Under the settlement, Phusion Projects will pay a whopping $400,000 to each state involved.
The beverage maker is accused of marketing their drinks to those under 21 years old and promoting binge drinking, which the company denies. However, in the settlement, Phusion Projects has agreed to not hire models under the age of 25 or anyone who looks to be under 21 years old; to not promote their beverages on college campuses; to not use college mascots or logos in its marketing campaigns; and to not promote binge drinking. Whew. That's a lot.
Blamed for numerous deaths and hospitalizations for many young people since its introduction in 2005, Four Loko has been banned in several states. The FDA has also used the controversy around Four Loko to highlight studies that reveal the danger of mixing caffeine and alcohol.
"This is an important step toward ending the irresponsible marketing of alcohol to young people,” Herrera said in a statement. “I’m grateful that we were able to get this industry leader on the same page with consumer protection offices in San Francisco and 19 states. The result will be better informed consumers and a safer, healthier marketplace."
In a statement, Phusion Projects President Jim Sloan said:
We consider this agreement a practical way to move forward and an opportunity to highlight our continued commitment to ensuring that our products are consumed safely and responsibly only by adults 21 and over. Phusion continues to believe, however, as do many people throughout the world, that the combination of alcohol and caffeine can be consumed safely and responsibly.
Hm. We'll pass, thanks.