The attorneys general of a number of states have submitted a comment to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) taking issue with several aspects of a proposed settlement agreement with the company that makes the caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko®. Additional information about the proposed settlement appears in Issue 412 of this Update.
Attached to the November 16, 2011, letter are numerous Facebook comments by individuals who apparently “like” various Four Loko® photos, press announcements and news items. The AGs express their concern that FTC will allow Phusion “to market as much as 2.5 servings of alcohol (1.5 oz of ethanol) as if it were one serving and avoid the Order’s requirements for label disclosure and resealability, and its prohibition against depicting consumption directly from the can. By condoning the marketing of ‘single serving’ FMBs [flavored malt beverages] with 2.5 servings of alcohol, the Order would undermine federal guidelines for moderate drinking.” They also request that FTC define “resealable” and undertake a study after the order is finalized on “the impact of the label disclosure.”
According to the AGs, if an alcohol product is labeled with a disclosure that it contains “as much alcohol as [x] regular (12 oz, 5% alc/vol) beers,” given the current lack of data, it is unknown how such disclosures will “influence the purchasing and consumption decisions of [Four Loko] consumers.” Quoting some of the Facebook statements attached to the letter, the AGs note that these consumers self-report excessive alcohol consumption and “an intent to consume the product to become intoxicated.” Thirty-four state AGs, the AGs of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the city attorney of San Francisco signed the letter.