US: FDA says no evidence to suggest energy drink ingredients unsafe
Energy drinks have been under intense scrutiny in the US
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partly rejected health concerns raised by two senators over energy drinks, saying there is no evidence to suggest taurine and guarana are dangerous.
In letters to Illinois's Dick Durbin and Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, the FDA said it has no reason to investigate if the two ingredients are used as stimulants in energy drinks because its only concern is whether they are safe. “The FDA searched the literature but did not find any information that called into question the safety of these ingredients,” the letters said.
The letters were sent last week and published yesterday (27 November) by the New York Times.
They were in response to Durbin and Blumenthal's own letter in September asking the FDA to review the effects of taurine and guarana and querying their use as stimulants in energy drinks.
The senators also asked the FDA to investigate the health risks of caffeine on young people, but last week's letter stated that caffeine consumption among young people has remained flat since the introduction of energy drinks.
The letters sparked a jump in the shares of energy drinks maker Monster Beverage, which has recently been the focus of regulatory and media scrutiny over the health effects of its products. Yesterday, the company's share price rose by 11.5% and has remained steady in trading today.
A Stifel Nicolaus analyst said the FDA letter was “a cherry on top” for investors who already believed the body was not going to increase regulation on the energy drinks sector.
“Most people had come close to dismissing the regulatory side of the FDA concern,” Mark Astrachan told just-drinks. “But seeing the FDA going into a lot of detail of why they didn't have concerns and didn't think they needed to be concerned was a sigh of relief.”
He added: “They could have done a lot more and didn't.”
However, Astrachan said the letter is unlikely to reignite The Coca-Cola Co's rumoured interest in in buying Monster. “If Coca-Cola were to announce a deal tomorrow they would have to explain why (the FDA review) was a non-issue,” he said. “So they would need a lot of comfort with it.”
Speculation that Coca-Cola was interested in buying Monster heated up in July after the latter's share price nose-dived.
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