West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw wants federal regulators to take a tougher stance against the marketers of the Four Loko brand of alcoholic beverages.
Last week, McGraw joined 35 other state attorneys general in encouraging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to take "swift, forceful action" against Four Loko manufacturer Phusion Products.
"The marketing of these high-alcohol beverages encourages young people to consume the entire large container in one sitting," McGraw said in a statement Monday.
Sold in a variety of flavors, Four Loko drinks are a brand of malt liquor containing 12% alcohol and packaged in 23.5oz cans that cannot be resealed.
In a letter to FTC secretary Donald Clark, the attorneys general describe the drink as "a disarmingly sweet fruit-flavored product in brightly colored ready-to-drink containers."
They say selling a highly alcoholic product in those oversized cans is part of a deceptive marketing practice Phusion Products uses to promote binge drinking.
It is not the first time the product has come under federal or state scrutiny. Last November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ordered four companies - Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co., Phusion Projects and United Brands - to discontinue production of alcoholic products that contained caffeine and other ingredients commonly found in energy drinks.
Those ingredients masked the effect of alcohol and led to cases of alcohol poisoning and death. Four Loko and similar products were pulled from store shelves nationwide until a new, decaffeinated version could be formulated.
The FTC also said last November that it was going to crack down on how the product was labeled and marketed to consumers. The company used to market the product as having the same amount of alcohol as "one or two beers," a claim federal officials said was untrue.
More popular beer brands, like Bud Light, Miller Lite and Michelob Ultra, contain about 4.2% alcohol and are sold mostly in 12oz cans and bottles. Regular Budweiser has an alcohol content of 5%.
That means drinking one can of Four Loko would be like drinking five and a half cans of the popular light beer brands, or four and a half cans of Budweiser.
From the November 22, 2011, Prepared Foods’ Daily News