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By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Some parents and lawmakers believe new government regulations don’t go far enough to protect consumers from Four Loko, an alcoholic drink linked to several deaths in Maryland.

Mike Hellgren investigates the controversy.

The manufacturer took caffeine out of Four Loko but some, including Maryland’s Attorney General, say it is still too strong with alcohol and he would like to see the portion size downsized.

Nicknamed “Blackout in a Can,” the furor over Four Loko has reached a fever pitch with an unprecedented number of people writing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) saying a settlement with the makeover of its packaging and marketing doesn’t go far enough to regulate the drink.

Four Loko gained notoriety after several deaths in Maryland, including that of Courtney Spurry in 2010.

“She blacked out within 30 minutes of having the alcoholic beverage,” Spurry’s friend Abby Sherwood said.

And then there was 13-year-old Michael Truluck just days ago.

“It could have been any one of these children out here,” Truluck’s mother Kris Keys said.

The government will mandate new labels telling consumers the drink contains the same amount of alcohol as four and a half beers.

They’re also requiring resealable cans and no images in ads showing people drinking from a single container.

But critics– including attorneys general in more than 30 states led by Maryland’s Doug Gansler– wrote the FTC calling Four Loko “disarmingly sweet, eye-catching cans normalizing and promoting binge drinking, especially among youth.”

“I think it’s inherently dangerous to children, and that’s to whom they’re marketing,” Gansler said.

They want the agency to limit containers to no more than two servings of alcohol.

While they say it’s a recipe for disaster, the FTC says there’s little more the agency can do. They say they can’t regulate size, potency, or ban the drink which is sold across Maryland.

“I don’t think it needs a label at all,” a Hampden resident said. “I think what needs to be done is parents need to talk to their kids about underage drinking and stop blaming this particular drink.”

The makers of Four Loko say they do not market to underage drinkers. They could not comment on the terms of this new FTC settlement.

The FTC will make a final decision on Four Loko regulations sometime later this year.

Comments (13)
  1. Artifact2 says:

    Ahh yes the best line of the article: “new government regulations don’t go far enough to protect consumers from Four Loko”

    Protect me from myself ohh wise government!

  2. Card says:

    How does the Government expect to protect a 13 yr old from alcohol??
    I know!!!!

    Better Parenting!!


  3. KT says:

    Wow seriously?! Again with the “oh deadly Four Loko!” People need to take responsibilities for their own actions and decisions…. not to mention Parents need to be held accountable for their 13 year old who is out at night by themselves with people much older than him giving him alcohol!
    Why isn’t the person that provided it being held accountable?
    Why is the liquor store who might have sold it to someone under age being held accountable?

  4. coon in the room says:

    The 13 yr old was 26 going on 30 the lil prick. Lock up his lazy parents.

  5. Mom says:

    Agreed, effective parenting keeps alcohol out of kids’ hands as well as cracking down on stores/bars that sell to underaged kids. Better parents will protect kids, any alcohol is dangerous in the hands of children, but it is up to PARENTS to protect them. That little boy is dead because his step father did not obey the law and make him wear a seat belt. he could just as well have been barfing from the flu or spoiled food.

    It seems incredibly stupid to single out Four Loko as long as cigarettes are even more widely available as they kill way more people.

    If they want to do something effective, make parents accountable for what their children do and throw them in jail for a bit, make them do community service, educate them or take the kids away for their own protection. Obviously that boy did not have fit parents as they allowed him to attend a party where alcohol was available to minors, did not report that to the police and then did not obey the law that the cild had to be wearing a seat belt. Everyone says it’s a big tragedy and cried boo hoo, but nobody seems to be holding the parents accountable as it was NEGLIGENCE that led to the tragedy. The particular brand of alcohol he drank is incidental, it could just as well have been Natty Boh or rum & Coke. The Four Loko did not kill the boy, falling out of the car because he was not wearing a set belt did.

  6. SpecialEd says:

    I just laugh at the fact that the U.S. has one of the oldest drinking ages in the world and we seem to be the only one that has problems with teenagers that can’t hold their liquor.

  7. CJ says:

    I like that drink to ban it would be wrong. Why? The chick that blacked out and died, she could had heart problems and didn’t know that the drink contains a lot of caffeine and alcohol or she didn’t know that she had a condition. And for any child that’s out here drinking under the age there parents need to step up and be what they are and that’s there parents…….Whoop that a$$!!

  8. meeeeee says:

    Did everyone forget about everclear and golden grain which is readily available just like jello??? Hello!!!! It doesn’t take a kid with a ZGPA of 4.0 to make jello shots and Jello is a kids snack. There’s MadDog, Boons Farm, Arbor Mist. The government is truely propaganda driven. Since there is no more added stimulants in FourLoko the Jager Bomb, and Irish car bomb are not needed. People need to learn that guns dont kill people, stupid people kill people.

  9. NickNackPaddyWack says:

    This is all because that kid a week or so ago who fell out of the car being drunk. The parents cant take blame and want to blame this company. What if he had chugged vodka? should we stop the makeing of vodka

  10. Momoftwo says:

    Both of my children knew the young boy that was killed. The reason he passed away was not the blame of 4 Loco, completely. Yes he drank it. Yes he was underage. But then again, didn’t we all partake in underage drinking?!?! The real issues here are– an underage kid was drinking– it could have been any type of alcohol– which was either purchased by someone 21 or older and given to him– or it was purchased by an uderage kid–illegaly– then adult made a dumb choice by allowing a 13 yr old to sit in a car without a seat belt. This tragedy came about by several factors. This is not just about a kid drinking underage. We can all sit here and blame 4Loco, we can blame someone’s parenting skills… but as for me, I know I am not the “perfect” parent. I make mistakes (just as we all do). These parents are doing enough self blaming and finger pointing as it is. They have to live every day knowing that their 13 year old son is gone. My kids have to live every day knowing that thier friend is gone. It is a tragedy no matter how you look at it.

  11. AidensMama says:

    Wow really? I say charge the step dad for not making his step son wear a seatbelt. They’re more worried about what he drank rather than who gave it to him? If it were me, I’d want to know who the mofo was who gave my 13 year old alcohol in the first place. Wow, some people should never become parents. The worst part, the only reasons they want to hold four loko accountable is because, a) they can’t admit his death was partially THEIR fault, and b) they’re probably looking to make a pretty penny off a settlement. Shame on both of you!! There’s a place in he!! for people like you.

  12. The Grump says:

    Are you kidding ? Blackout in a can ? Several deaths ? Now I want to try “Four Loco” more than ever. I GOTTA HAVE SOME !!!

    I wonder if it comes it diet flavors ? I’m trying to avoid sugar – it’s bad for you.

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