Energy drinks are likley to face further scrutiny this year

Energy drinks are likley to face further scrutiny this year

Opponents of energy drinks have lost none of their fizz in 2013. 

After last year's unprecedented level of scrutiny, the likes of Monster Beverage and 5-hour Energy producer, Living Essentials, might have been forgiven for thinking the furore had abated. But three US lawmakers are refusing to lie down on the issue. 

Senators Richard Durbin and Richard Blumenthal have this week sent letters to 14 companies asking them 13 probing questions relating to their products. Questions included whether the companies regard their products as a supplement of a conventional food and if the products are marketed to children or teenagers. 

The senators, along with representative Edward Markey, have set a deadline of 1 February for the responses. Considering the nature of the questions, I'd be very surprised if all the companies get back to them by this date. If they don't, you can be sure there'll be another press announcement attacking the companies' failure to answer their critics.

What will be interesting is seeing how the individual compaines respond to this direct approach. In general, business folk aren't too keen on the interference of politicians, and being set a deadline to answers questions about products, which they no doubt regard as harmless, will irritate further still.

Coca-Cola's top man, Muhtar Kent, and PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi both have received letters addressed to them for their Nos Energy and AMP Energy brands, respectively. Clearly, their exposure is less than the likes of Monster or Red Bull, but how they react to the call will be worth noting.

The senators' move wasn't the first hurdle for energy drinks this year. Earlier this week, a report suggested that US hospital visits linked to energy drinks have doubled from 10,068 in 2007 to 20,783 in 2011. The American Beverage Association moved to dampen the flames, claiming the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report failed to account for the overall health of patients being admitted. 

Meanwhile, still looming in the background is the on-going investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration into filings over recent years where energy drinks have been cited in relation to patient deaths.  

For energy drinks producers, 2013 looks set to be another testing year. At least they should have the right drink at hand to help inject some staying power.