The Path Towards FDA Regulation of Energy Drinks
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Nov 27, 2012 in Energy Drinks
Another small step forward in the battle to stop energy drink companies from marketing to teenagers and young adults. The FDA responded to Sen. Blumenfeld and Sen. Durbin's concerns about energy drinks and has acknowledged that the agency is looking into the safety of energy drinks and how they are marketed.
On November 21, 2012 the FDA responded to Senator Durbin and Senator Blumenthal's request for additional information about concerns related to energy drinks. The Senators had asked the FDA for additional information about possible interactions between the additives in energy drinks such as taurine, guarana and panax ginseng and caffeine; and also about the impact of energy drinks on young people. The FDA stated that
"In particular we are looking at whether products that may be safe for most individuals under labeled use condition's may pose significant risks arising from direct toxic effects when the products are consumed in excess or by vulnerable groups, including young people and those with pre-existing cardiac or other conditions."
The FDA expressed agreement that the synergistic effects of caffeine and other ingredients in energy drinks is of concern, but indicated that it is not practicable for the FDA to do government funded toxicity studies of all of the various combinations.
In order to address Senator Durbin's concerns about the increasing consumption patterns amongst young people of caffeine, the FDA indicated that an analysis was done of caffeine consumption in the US population in 2009 and 2010 titled "Caffeine Intake by the U.S. Population" by Laszlo Somogyi, Ph.D. The results of this study somehow showed that most caffeine is consumed by young people in the form of coffee, soft drinks and tea rather than from energy drinks. I do not agree with the FDA's analysis on this point. With the explosion of energy drinks into the U.S. Marketplace, and with their marketing often directed at teens and young adults, I think that the amount of caffeine consumed by young people from energy drinks is actually much higher than indicated in the Somogyi reports.
The bottom line is that the FDA is not ready to regulate caffeine levels in energy drinks yet, but thanks to Senator Durbin and Senator Blumenfeld, the FDA is now forced to closely monitor the safety of energy drinks.
Michele Mital (Acting Associate Commissioner for Legislation) authored the FDA Letter11.21.2012.pdfletter, and a complete copy can be found here.