LAVAL, Quebec -- The maker of a controversial alcohol beverage is ending production of the drink and calling for an end for its main competitor, as well.
Geloso Group, a Laval, Quebec-based company that makes the Fckdup flavored malt beverage (FMB), announced March 4 it would immediately end production and marketing of the drink, which has been on the market in Quebec for about a year.
"The Geloso Group will take the necessary steps with its internal teams, retailers and the entire industry to exit this category as quickly as possible," Aldo Geloso, co-president of the company, said in a statement. "I have ordered my employees to cease production of the Fckdup drink immediately. Last Friday, I also ordered the removal of all advertisements for the drink. It's the right thing to do."
The statement comes a week after a 14-year-old girl was found dead behind her school after having consumed the drink, according to reports.
Following the incident, Alimentation Couche-Tard, one of the largest convenience-store chains in Quebec, announced March 2 it would immediately and voluntarily pull Fckdup drinks from its stores.
"Although sale of the beverage is 100% legal, acting responsibly is a daily practice at Couche-Tard, and this is why the decision was made today," the company, also based in Laval, said. "At Couche-Tard, we are stringent in the sale of all regulated products, whether they consist of alcohol, tobacco or lottery products. We make sure at all times that the buyer is of the legal age to purchase such products. Our policies in this respect are very strict."
It's believed the teenage girl who died had stolen the drinks from a convenience store. Fckdup drinks were made in numerous sweet flavors with 11.9% alcohol by volume, the maximum allowed for a malt product in Quebec, and packaged in colorful 19-ounce cans. The drinks also include caffeine.
Now, Geloso is also calling for its main competitor in the high-alcohol FMB market, Four Loko, to be removed from the market, as well.
"The Four Loko category should not even exist," Geloso said. "Until recently, the Four Loko can contained ethyl alcohol, which is in violation of regulation. For this reason, the product was removed from shelves in December, but is about to return. The entire industry, including retailers, must unite to stop the impending return of Four Loko on Quebec store shelves."
Geloso called for a roundtable of manufacturers, retailers and government representatives to discuss the issue.
"Our company is ready to play a leading role in this process and in seeking the implementation of new control mechanisms so that such a tragedy never repeats itself," Geloso said.
Contacted by CSP Daily News, Four Loko, which is produced by Chicago-based Phusion Projects, expressed sympathies and condolences to the family of the teenager, and added, "We are following the situation closely and have put decisions regarding possible reintroduction of Four Loko in Quebec temporarily on hold." The company also pointed out that it removed all stimulants from Four Loko products in 2010.