CHICAGO (WKOW) -- Company pulls caffeine from popular alcoholic energy drink, Four Loko.
Phusion Projects has announced the company's intent to reformulate its products to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine nationwide, saying it has taken the necessary steps to do so and is informing its employees and distributors of the plans. In a statement, Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman, Phusion's three co-founders and current managing partners said:
"We have repeatedly contended - and still believe, as do many people throughout the country - that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe. If it were unsafe, popular drinks like rum and colas or Irish coffees that have been consumed safely and responsibly for years would face the same scrutiny that our products have recently faced.
"In addition, if our products were unsafe, we would not have expected the federal agency responsible for approving alcoholic beverage formulas - the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) - to have approved them. Yet, all of our product formulas and packaging were reviewed and approved by the TTB before being offered to consumers.
"We are taking this step after trying - unsuccessfully - to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.
"Over the last several months we have been more than willing to talk with regulators and policymakers on the national, state and local levels. Our company has a history of being as cooperative as we possibly can to ensure that our products are consumed safely, responsibly and only by of-age adults.
"We hoped that clear, consistent, industry-wide standards regulating pre-packaged caffeinated alcoholic beverages would be the outcome of these conversations. We also hoped others would share our commitment to transparency and fairness.
"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship."
Making concessions like this is something the company has a history of doing. It added multiple additional label warnings to its cans at the request of regulators; its alcohol-by-volume warnings are in a font as large as is allowed by law; and where required, Phusion sells versions of its product with reduced alcohol content.
Additionally, the company works with its distributors to share information about the appropriate way to stock and market its products; it works with retailers to provide point of sale information that reinforces the importance of asking for ID when selling any alcoholic beverage; and it includes warnings and labels on its cans that go above and beyond what the federal government requires - helping to ensure that consumers are informed and that its products don't end up in the hands of minors.
In an open letter to regulators this month, Phusion said it would welcome the opportunity to work together to create uniform standards for all liquor and malt-based caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The company also stated that uniformity means uniformity in how the laws are written, applied and enforced. The company, unfortunately, was not given that opportunity.