Four Loko's bright colours are known to appeal to young, inexperienced drinkers.
The controversial alcoholic fruit drink “Four Loko” is being recalled from depanneurs because it was found to contain ethyl alcohol, a substance that can only be legally sold at the SAQ. The recall also affects other drinks sold by Blue Spike.
Ethyl alcohol is obtained by distillation, a process strictly controlled by Quebec’s Régie des alcools, courses et jeux (RACJ). Depanneurs and grocery stores are only allowed to sell alcohol obtained through malt fermentation (known as malt liquor) – a very different process that produces milder alcohol. During an analysis of sample products from Blue Spike, the RACJ found ethyl alcohol in Four Loko and other drinks. In total, 34 products are being taken off shelves.
Blue Spike acknowledged that the drinks they were selling contained ethyl alcohol, but maintained that this does not affect their alcohol concentration – 11.9% alc./vol. in each 568 mL can of Four Loko.
Four Loko is just one of the Blue Spike brands being recalled. Other brands affected by the recall are Baron, Mojo, Octane and Seagram.
Four Loko has gotten some pretty bad press recently. The drink worries public health officials because its bright packaging and sweet flavour appeals mainly to young, inexperienced drinkers. Those people tend to “chug” the drink rather than drink it slowly. Because of its elevated alcohol content (11.9%), it has been known to cause multiple hospitalizations due to alcohol poisoning. It even put one girl into a coma in October.
The drink is nicknamed “blackout-in-a-can” and “liquid crack” in the United States.