The ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages, also called alcopop, was one of the biggest stories in the beverage service and sales industry in 2010. Popular beverages such as Four Loko were called dangerous, a binge in a can, and worse. The Food and Drug Administration declared alcoholic energy drinks to be a public health concern and concluded that caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages was an unsafe food additive (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Four Loko removed the caffeine from their beverages to comply with new regulations. Now, the FTC has reached a settlement with Phusion Products, the makers of Four Loko, to take it a step further.
In an effort keep drinkers safe and well informed about how much alcohol they are consuming, cans of Four Loko will now display an “Alcohol Facts” label, similar to a nutritional label, to make it clear they pack a potent punch.
These facts will include the container size, percentage alcohol by volume, number of servings in the container and serving size in fluid ounces (NPR). Additionally, all cans of Four Loko containing more than two-and-a-half servings will also have to be re-sealable. The intent is to help consumers realize that they should not consume the entire can in one sitting. A can of Four Loko contains up to 12% alcohol, and a 23.5 ounce can is equivalent to about four or five standard beers (San Francisco Chronicle). Binge drinking means drinking so much within about 2 hours that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL. For women, this usually occurs after about 4 drinks, and for men, after about 5. (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
This should serve as a reminder to all beverage service professionals to always serve responsibly. Alcopops with colorful packaging and fruity flavors are especially popular with teen drinkers, so servers and sellers should be extra vigilant in checking identification and observing guests.
- FDA Warning Letters Issued to Four Makers of Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Four Loko Cans Will Now Make Clear They’re Loaded With Alcohol – NPR
- Government Seeks Changes for Malt Liquor Four Loko – San Francisco Chronicle
- NIAAA Council Approves Definition of Binge Drinking
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