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Four Loko Under Fire

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Four Loko, a popular caffeinated, alcoholic beverage, is cracking down on their marketing and will no longer be promoted on college campuses, according to Four Loko’s parent company, Phusion Projects.
For several years, scientists and lawmakers have been aware of the harmful effects of Four Loko’s signature mix of caffeine and alcohol. These same opinion leaders took strides to ban the drink, which led a company effort to remove caffeine from the beverage, in order to stave off a federal lawsuit, according to a Huffington Post article.
Phusion Projects has also been accused of purposefully marketing Four Loko to minors, particularly on college campuses.  Additionally, it has been speculated that the company has hired underage models to promote their products in their marketing campaigns, according to the the same Huffington Post story.
While Phusion Projects denies all claims against them, they announced that they reached an agreement with attorney generals across 20 states in the U.S. this past March, and agreed to actively prevent marketing to minors and college campuses.
In a statement issued by the President of Phusion Projects, Jim Sloan, the company said, “while consumers have the right to voice their opinions on our social media platforms, we do not want to see our products portrayed in an irresponsible manner.  For that reason we monitor our social media sites to remove unacceptable comments or images and utilize age-gates to ensure that we are reaching only adults 21 and over.”
Despite evidence backed by research, Phusion Projects asserts that the alcohol and caffeine can be combined and consumed in a safe and responsible manner.

By Caitlyn Bahrenburg.
By Caitlyn Bahrenburg.

In regard to the effects of Four Loko, Monmouth University’s Dr. Merrily Ervin, Coordinator of General Education Science, who specializes in nutrition, stated, “Alcohol is a depressant. However, when mixed with the stimulant caffeine, alcohol’s depressant effects can be masked.  Instead of a drowsy drunk, you become a wide-awake drunk.  Your ability to use good judgment is still impaired by the alcohol, so this combination simply increases the chances that you will make some really bad decisions.”
Aside from the dangerous effects of combining caffeine and alcohol, the highly intoxicating quality of Four Loko has also prompted the cessation of marketing the beverage on college campuses. While caffeine has been removed from the canned cocktail, Four Loko is still regarded as having highly intoxicating effects due to its combination of alcohol and novel flavors, according to a Huffington Post article.
In his article found in the journal of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Dr. Shepard Siegel said that flavor cues in alcohol prepare the body for the effects of the depressant. By masking these cues with flavors such as Four Loko’s newest Blueberry Lemonade, the body is unable to prepare itself for alcohol’s effects.
Aside from flavor masking, Four Loko also contains a 12 percent alcohol content, which contributes to its highly intoxicating quality. Consuming one can of Four Loko equates to about one whole bottle of wine! Combining a high level of alcohol content with masking flavors leads to increased consumption, decreased tolerance, and faster intoxication.
Despite evidential support, Phusion Projects asserts that the combination of novel flavors and alcohol is a common industry practice.  In a statement by an unnamed company spokesperson, Phusion stated that, “there are many other malt beverages with flavors similar to our products on the market, as well as sweetened and fruit flavored vodkas and rums. Like our peers in the industry, we introduce new flavors for the same reason clothing and car designers introduce new colors: our consumers want and enjoy them.”
Regardless of the company’s standpoint and government restrictions, consumption is ultimately the responsibility of the consumer. It is essential for individuals of age to be aware of what they are consuming and to take in the beverages responsibly.
Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to drink responsibly.  Check out these tips for responsible drinking and take the responsibility into your own hands.  For more information regarding the effects of Four Loko, you can read Dr. Siegel’s article here or you can visit Four Loko’s website.

Video by Caitlyn Bahrenburg