RIVER NORTH — A Chicago-company that sells Four Loko has agreed to stop making alcoholic energy drinks, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Phusion Projects will cease the manufacture, sale and marketing of the drinks nationally, Madigan said.
In a statement, the attorney general's office said the deal resolves allegations that Phusion violated consumer protection and trade practice statutes by "promoting the drink to underage youth, promoting dangerous and excessive consumption of Four Loko and failing to disclose to consumers the effects and consequences of drinking alcoholic beverages combined with caffeine."
“Phusion used marketing and sales tactics that glorified alcohol use and promoted binge drinking,” Madigan said in the statement. “This agreement is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to reduce access to dangerous caffeinated alcoholic beverages, especially to underage drinkers.”
The agreement was signed by attorneys general in 19 states and it brings to an end a years-long battle with the beverage maker.
Phusion, which has corporate offices at 640 N. LaSalle St., has repeatedly denied Madigan's allegations. In a written statement, Phusion Projects President Jim Sloan said the company clearly labeled the products and was strongly against underage drinking.
"While our company did not violate any laws and we disagree with the allegations of the State Attorneys General, we consider this agreement a practical way to move forward and an opportunity to highlight our continued commitment to ensuring that our products are consumed safely and responsibly only by adults 21 and over," Sloan said.
The agreement also notes Phusion's cooperation with law enforcement in the past. Sloan said Four Loko products have not contained caffeine since 2010 after the Food and Drug Administration called similar products a "public health concern."
"Phusion continues to believe, however, as do many people throughout the world, that the combination of alcohol and caffeine can be consumed safely and responsibly," Sloan said.
The company started in 2005 by three Ohio State University graduates. Four Loko was launched in 2008. By 2009, the company was selling drinks in 47 states.