Senators continue to question FDA on energy drink safety

It seems the tete-a-tete between Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and the FDA regarding regulation of energy drinks is far from over. In August we saw the response letter to Sen. Durbin’s April letter to FDA regarding caffeine limitation and stricter labeling regulations around health claims as well as potential dangers of ingredients such as taurine and guarana (click here for the backstory). 

Clearly the senators were not satisfied by the response because just two days ago another letter was sent to FDA urging them again to revise their criteria.

The senators wrote:

“The current ambiguity between conventional foods and dietary supplements leaves room for some food and beverage products to circumvent safety standards, such as those required for food additives. We encourage the agency to issue the final guidance in a timely manner.”

The FDA created draft guidance for the regulation of liquid supplements and conventional foods in 2009, which is available on the FDA website

Calling for caffeine limitations

In the Sept. 11 letter to FDA, Durbin and Blumenthal also call for safe caffeine intake distinctions between children and adults. Currently the FDA’s safety limit of 400 mg/day is based on healthy adults.

Pediatricians recommend far lower levels of daily caffeine consumption for young people. The senators contend that adolescents are primary consumers and potentially even the target market for energy drinks like AMP, Red Bull and Monster. The senators write that 30 to 50 percent of adolescents report using energy drinks, and this data, if correct, would certainly support their argument.

They also call into question again the safety of ingredients like taurine and guarana due to potential stimulant affects at higher doses, as well as the substantiation of associating those ingredients with health claims. See what AHPA has to say on the matter.

Should FDA draw a clearer line between energy supplements and beverages? Is Monster, Red Bull or 5-hour Energy a beverage or a supplement in your opinion?

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