A group of one hundred scientists and physicians, led by a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has sent a petition to the FDA urging the agency to increase energy drink regulations, as the high caffeine drinks could increase the risk of caffeine intoxication and alcohol-related injuries.
In a letter from Dr. Roland Griffiths, of Johns Hopkins, the group petitioned the FDA to require that popular energy drinks like “Red Bull”, “Rock Star”, “Monster” and “Full Throttle”, list their caffeine content on the label together with information about potential side effects that can be caused by consuming too much caffeine.
Currently the FDA does not require warnings or information about the possible health risks of energy drinks. The regulatory agency also does not limit the amount of caffeine in these drinks, many of which are readily available to young adults and children.
The energy drink market in the United States generated sales of about $5.4 billion in 2006 and is growing at a rate of 55% per year. Red Bull is the highest selling non-alcoholic energy drink, with a caffeine content of 80 mg per 8.3 oz can and $1 billion in worldwide sales. MillerCoors Sparks was the top selling alcoholic caffeinated energy drink, with an alcohol content of 6-7% and a market share of 60% in the U.S.
According to an article in USA Today, the American Beverage Association has opposed the proposed FDA regulation and indicates that consumers who are interested in caffeine content can call the manufacturers’ toll free number or visit their website for the information that is not listed on the product.
The group of scientists and experts believe that warnings and limits are necessary because there is a wide disparity in caffeine and alcohol content in the various brands of energy drinks. For example some non-alcoholic energy drinks, like Monster, Rockstar, Red Bull, Amp, No Fear and Full Throttle, have caffeine content between 75mg and 150mg per can. However, products like Fixx, Wired and BooKoo Energy have drastically higher caffeine content between 300mg and 500mg per can.
Caffeine intoxication can result from drinking too much caffeine, with symptoms like rapid heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, restlessness, tremors and even death, in rare cases. In many cases, multiple energy drinks may be consumed in a short period of time, which may increase the risk of injury.
The non-alcoholic energy drinks also often mixed with alcohol, which can make it harder for people to gauge their level of intoxication, leading to a higher risk of auto accidents and other alcohol related injuries.