Phusion Projects has hit back at criticism of its Four Loko

Phusion Projects has hit back at criticism of its Four Loko

Phusion Projects has hit back at criticism of its Four Loko brand after nine Central Washington University students were hospitalised this month after consuming the beverage.

The students are understood to have consumed the caffeinated alcoholic drink at a recent party, according to CNN reports on Monday (25 October). Police found a number of the underage students, some of whom had drunk Four Loko and other alcoholic drinks, "passed out and very intoxicated", CNN noted.

As a result, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is calling for federal food regulators to ban the beverages.

"They're marketed to kids by using fruit flavours that mask the taste of alcohol and they have such high levels of stimulants that people have no idea how inebriated they really are," McKenna told CNN.

However, Phusion Projects hit back at the claims, stating that, while it is "unacceptable" that its beverages were "abused" by underage drinkers, "so too is placing blame for the incident squarely on Four Loko" when other liquors were also consumed.

"Making college campuses safe and healthy environments for learning is a goal we share with administrators - even those who have chosen to ban our products," the firm said. "However, we also know that curbing alcohol abuse on college campuses will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product or beverage category.

"This is precisely why we go to great lengths to ensure our products are not sold to underage consumers and are not abused," Phusion Projects added.