ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York is among 20 states that have reached agreement with the makers of the fruit flavored malt beverages Four Loko, meant to ensure marketing through social media isn’t aimed at underage drinkers.
Under the agreement, Chicago-based Phusion Projects admitted no wrongdoing, but will pay $400,000 to authorities.
The company agreed not to sell alcoholic beverages containing caffeine, an ingredient it previously removed, or to promote sales to anyone underage or on school or college property except at retail establishments licensed to sell alcohol.
Phusion also agreed to remove from its websites and social media any postings that depict or condone misuse of alcohol.
Phusion Projects was further forbidden from hiring models or actors for its promotion materials who are under 25 or look to be under 21, and from using the initials, logos, or mascots of any school, college, university, fraternity or sorority.
“As numerous regulators and the Food and Drug Administration have rightly concluded, alcoholic energy drinks are dangerous—especially for the teenagers and young adults they target,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a news release. “Today’s agreement ensures that one company will no longer market a dangerous product to youth, but we must remain vigilant and continue to seek out dangerous marketing tactics and unsafe beverages that are increasingly sold in stores across the country. I thank my partners in law enforcement for their work in this case and look forward to a continued partnership to promote public health.”
The company called the agreement a practical way to move forward.
The attorney generals of 19 other states – including Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Phusion Projects home state of Illinois – were plaintiffs in the lawsuit along with the City Attorney of San Francisco.
Following an earlier controversy, Four Loko agreed to compare the amount of alcohol in its products to cans of beer. The Federal Trade Commission said in 2011 that Phusion Projects falsely claimed that a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko, at 11 or 12 percent alcohol, had the same amount of alcohol as one or two typical 12-ounce beers, and a consumer could drink a whole Four Loko safely in its entirety on a single occasion.
Actually, according to the FTC, a 23.5-ounce Four Loko as of 2011 contained about as much alcohol as four or five 12-ounce cans of regular beer and was not safe to drink in a single sitting.
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