WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Super-sized Four Loko drinks, beloved by college students as a "blackout in a can," have the same amount of alcohol as four to five beers, and packaging that compares them to one or two beers will be changed under a U.S. government settlement.
The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates complaints about deceptive advertising, said on Monday that Four Loko drinks, made by privately held Phusion Projects LLC, were highly alcoholic.
"Deception about alcohol content is dangerous to consumers, and it's a serious concern for the FTC," said David Vladeck, director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Phusion Projects said it disagrees that its advertising was deceptive.
"Even though we reached an agreement, we don't share the FTC's perspective and we disagree with their allegations," the company said. "However, we take legal compliance very seriously and we share the FTC's interest in making sure consumers get all the information and tools they need to make smart, informed decisions."
Phusion Projects agreed to begin selling Four Loko drinks in resealable containers, and said they will be on shelves by late spring. It also will put a warning on cans saying, "This can has as much alcohol as 4-1/2 regular (12 oz, 5 pct alc/vol) beers."
The sweet drinks, which are popular with people in their twenties, used to contain caffeine, but it was taken out last year.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz. Editing by Dale Hudson and Robert MacMillan)