Energy Drinks. Criminal!
Senator Urges FDA to Investigate Energy Drinks
In recent years Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has pushed for increased oversight of the food, beverage and supplement industry on many fronts; yesterday he sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to investigate the caffeine content in energy drinks.
Durbin said the letter came after he learned the story of 14 year-old Anais Fournier, who died last December of a cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity after drinking two 24 oz. Monster energy drinks over a 24-hour period.
Fournier’s mother has been actively telling her daughter’s story since then and is pushing for increased legislative action and parental awareness concerning energy drinks.
“Consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death. Young people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine, and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination,” wrote Durbin in his letter to Hamburg. “The glossy marketing tailored to youth has worked — 30 to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks.”
Durbin contends that while many energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements, the FDA does have the ability to enforce caffeine limits and additives in the products if they are being sold as beverages.
“Most energy drinks are currently marketed as dietary supplements, therefore they do not need to establish evidence of their products’ safety or adhere to a limit on the level of caffeine. At the same time, many energy drinks come in single-use containers ranging from 8oz to 32oz and are marketed like beverages. Rockstar Energy Drink’s website says, ‘enjoy this fully refreshing lightly carbonated beverage.’” he wrote. “If the FDA makes a determination that energy drinks are beverages with high levels of caffeine and additives that raise safety concerns, the agency would have the authority to limit the level of caffeine and require the manufacturers to provide scientific evidence that ingredients such as guarana, taurine, and ginseng are safe for their intended use and in combination with caffeine and other energy drink ingredients.”