The maker of Cisco, the fortified wine that Surgeon General Antonia C. Novello criticized because its packaging made it look like a relatively innocuous wine cooler, has agreed to alter the package and federal officials say they are now satisfied with the change.
"We don't think the new packaging is deceptive," said Jack Killorin, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). "We're glad that the company has agreed to make that change."
Cisco is 20 percent alcohol, almost three times the content of wine coolers.
Canandaigua Wine Co. of Canandaigua, N.Y., agreed to make changes in Cisco's packaging after Novello held a news conference last month to decry the wine, which has been linked to alcohol poisoning in teenagers.
"We're hoping with the change in the package, people, including younger teens, won't mistake it as a wine cooler and they will clearly be able to understand this drink is more than just a 7 percent alcohol content wine cooler," Novello spokeswoman Theresa Hyatt said.
Canandaigua said in a news release that the Federal Trade Commission concurred on the new packaging. The FTC declined to comment Wednesday.
Company officials met Monday with Novello and representatives of the other two agencies to discuss the proposed new packaging.
In its current packaging, Cisco is frequently placed next to wine coolers in stores. The new packaging, which should reach distributors in the spring, will give Cisco "a totally new look," Canandaigua said.
"The new Cisco package looks like no other product on the market today," said Marvin Sands, company chairman.
Cisco will come in a dark green bottle with a long neck, instead of a clear, tapered bottle. The label also will be changed.
In the meantime, BATF is seeking to change the law to prevent wine companies from packaging fortified wines to look like wine coolers.