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Four Loko Makers Formally Settle Dispute With Regulators

The manufacturers of a popular caffeinated alcohol drink announced on Nov. 16, 2010, that they will remove the caffeine from its controversial products -- just before the FDA reveals its intention to ban the Four Loko beverage. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The manufacturers of a popular caffeinated alcohol drink announced on Nov. 16, 2010, that they will remove the caffeine from its controversial products — just before the FDA reveals its intention to ban the Four Loko beverage. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The manufacturer of the once-popular drink “Four Loko” has reached an out-of-court settlement that bars it from going back to the formula that made it popular.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports Four Loko remains in production, but has not been an alcohol-laden energy drink since the end of 2010, when Phusion Projects agreed to remove caffeine, guarana, and taurine from its products.

Phusion now has reached a settlement with the attorneys general for 13 states, including Illinois, to formalize that agreement, and restrict ads Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called irresponsible.

“It was clearly promoting underage drinking, it was targeted at underage individuals. It was glorifying alcohol use and abuse,” she said.

Madigan and other state officials had accused Phusion of marketing Four Loko to minors.

“They will no longer be marketing advertising to underage individuals. They will have to also monitor social media to make sure that there aren’t photographs, descriptions up there of people mixing their products with other caffeinated beverages,” she said.

Phusion has denied marketing its products to minors, and said increased education of existing laws and personal responsibility are the real solutions. However, the company saw the agreement as a practical way to end the dispute over its products.