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Friday, March 2, 2012

Salisbury Store Refuses To Sell Four Loko

SALISBURY, Md.- Four Loko is back, minus the caffeine, but government officials said it's still danger in a can.
The drinks look like juice cans, are colorfully packaged and are sweet to the taste. They're cheap and easy to get, however, one store on Delmarva won't carry it. 
"It's a high," said store manager, Peter Hutchinson of Cheers on S. Salisbury Boulevard Thursday, "It's sort of a fruit flavored high alcohol beverage that can get in the hands of young people and we take it seriously as our responsibility for the community and keeping kids safe."
The Federal Trade Commission is looking at a number of complaints about the popular fruit-flavored malt liquor. Under review: the amount of alcohol in the super sized cans and how they are marketed.
The FTC said that the drink's creator, Chicago-based Phusion Projects, has implied in ads that its 23.5-ounce can is equal to one or two regular 12-ounce beers. The agency says the can, which contains up to 12 percent alcohol, is really more like four to five beers and shouldn't be consumed in one sitting. 
The company contacted WBOC Thursday night after our story published, stating the following:
"Our labeling has always clearly conveyed exactly what's in the can in  bold, capital letters – 23.5 ounces and 12 percent ABV. We don't share the FTC's perspective and we disagree with their allegations. We don't believe there were any violations.  Four Loko's labeling and marketing has never stated that the cans were the equivalent of 1-2 beers.

Additionally, it is important to outline the timeline of our reformulation in 2010: 

On November 16, 2010, prior to the FDA's letter, we voluntarily reformulated Four Loko by removing caffeine, guarana, or taurine. We began producing the reformulated version of Four Loko on November 18, 2010.  No shipments of our products containing caffeine from Phusion's production facilities were made after November 17, 2010.  We were pleased that the FDA commended us on November 24, 2010, for our decision to voluntarily reformulate our products."
Hutchinson said he used to have the old version of Four Loko a few years ago when the drinks were laced with caffeine, giving drinkers not only a caffeine kick but also a buzz.
"We did sell a lot of it," he said, "We gave up a fair amount of sales in order not to sell it but that was the sacrifice we were ready to make."
It's a sacrifice some students at Salisbury University said they appreciated. Given their  experience with the drinks, some students said it's probably best if the government can implement tighter restrictions.
"It definitely could be misleading especially to those who aren't familiar with their limits, "said Nick Halden, "And it could cause problems for them. Higher alcohol beverages tend to do that to the younger crowds or a crowd that is not as experienced."
"They could do a better job of advertising it," said Cameron Ederton, "Let people know more about it rather than just putting it out there and letting college kids drink it."
Hutchinson said he has just one piece of advice for young adults, "I know they are young but they need to make proper decisions…You can do things that will hurt you."
Maryland is one of 30 states that are asking the commission to limit Four Loko to two servings of alcohol per can.
The commission plans to make a final decision on how the can looks and is advertised within a few months. 

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