Four Loko, after a legal settlement, will undergo changes in its marketing of the alcoholic beverage. As competition intensifies between alcoholic beverage companies with creative packaging, social media and television campaigns, product placement in box office hits, magazines, or music videos, gimmicks, and the list continues, one thing consumers would hope to be able to count on is the integrity and conscience of the makers. Consumers are trusting the creators of the beverage have added ingredients that are safe. With the alarming increase in cancer victims, heart disease, and overall poor health reportedly due to chemicals ingested regularly over the course of many years, consumers have become more cautious as well as conscientious about labels on their food and beverages. After the disturbing report of many deaths occurring allegedly from the Four Loko alcoholic beverage, consumers are taking time to research what is going into their body.
The colorful packaging of Four Loko would fool most shoppers, as it looks like a fun kiddie soda or fruit juice drink. The neon, bright colors jump off the shelf ahead of its competitors like an animated cartoon. Four Loko, however, is a malt liquor beverage for adults. According to the Los Angeles Times, allegedly many deaths and consumers being hospitalized have been blamed on Four Loko since its debut in 2005. President of Phusion Project, Jim Sloan, reportedly does not agree with the allegations being placed on his product and argues that his company did not violate the law. He has agreed to move forward in accordance with the legal settlement and wishes to continue serving the public. Phusion Project, based out of Chicago, was ordered to pay out $400,000 to each state involved in the case.
The Washington Post reported Phusion Project has agreed to no longer make or sell caffeinated malt liquor beverages and will also adhere to all restrictions on its marketing. The settlement was reached by 20 attorneys. Back in 2010 Phusion Project removed caffeine from its ingredients. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman reported the creators of Four Loko did not warn consumers of the danger of combining caffeine and alcohol, but Phusion Project is denying this allegation. Phusion Project was also allegedly in violation for selling Four Loko to minors. Sloan goes on to state in the CBS San Francisco that while there needs to be solutions for the rise in underage drinking, he does not agree with singling out one particular product to make an example of. However, if the company being singled out uses Santa Claus as part of its ad campaign, many would argue that Four Loko was possibly promoting underage drinking which would lead many parents and the justice system to make allegations that the alcoholic fruit beverage caused the deaths of minors.
While the thought of the combination of caffeine and alcohol possibly causing death is disturbing, many consumers start remembering how many substances they have combined that could be making them ill. Much of America is not made up of chemists that have the knowledge to decipher what ingredients are deadly in combination to consume. Phusion Project of Four Loko stands behind their product and will continue to deny all allegations. And even though they are to pay $400,000 to each of the states, Phusion Project refuses to accept responsibility on a conscious level. Americans are at the mercy of the makers of the food and beverage products and the FDA to regulate. Many would hope that an investor’s return on investment does not take precedence over a human life…hope being the operative word. But to be safe, shopping organic might possibly be the safest way to go.
Opinion by Meleika Gardner