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Energy ingredients safe, say European scientists

Scientists in the EU have ruled that two ingredients found commonly in energy drinks are safe.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by the European Commission to assess whether there were any health concerns over regular consumption of taurine and d-glucuronolactone.

EFSA's Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) said the evidence indicated that "a sufficient margin of safety exists for mean and high-level regular consumers of energy drinks, drinking on average 125ml (0.5 cans) and 350ml (1.4 cans) per person per day respectively."

It added: "Hence, exposure to taurine and d-glucuronolactone at these levels is not a safety concern."

Issuing its opinion, the panel noted reports of acute health problems, including fatalities, in young people consuming energy drinks either in very high amounts, in combination with physical exercise or, more frequently, together with alcohol. But the panel said this could be due to another common ingredient in energy drinks — caffeine.

Health problems mentioned could be due to the "well-known side effects of high caffeine intake, while the assumption of a causal relationship with taurine intake is lacking scientific evidence", the panel stated.

Based on new data from human studies, the panel said it believed that cumulative interactions between taurine and caffeine with regard to diuretic effects were unlikely.

It said it also believed it was unlikely that d-glucuronolactone would have any interaction with caffeine, taurine, alcohol or the effects of exercise.

It is understood the European Commission has no plans to ask the EFSA to look into the safety of other ingredients often found in energy drinks — such as guarana and ginseng.

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