US: Senators reignite energy drinks producers probe

By | 18 January 2013

US lawmakers are undeterred in their scrutiny of energy drinks

US lawmakers are undeterred in their scrutiny of energy drinks

Two US senators have stepped up their scrutiny of energy drinks by writing to 14 companies demanding information on their products. 

In the letters, Senators Richard Durbin and Richard Blumenthal, as well as representative Edward Markey, ask for details of product ingredients and company investigations into the health risk to children. The companies include Monster Beverage, Rockstar, Red Bull and Living Essentials, the distributor of 5-Hour Energy. 

PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Co and Dr Pepper Snapple Group have also been sent copies of the letter, which contains 13 questions, including specifying the caffeine content in their energy drinks. 

"One of the major concerns surrounding energy drinks is the potential health risks to children who consume these products," the letter says. "Furthermore, questions have been raised about the combination of high levels of caffeine with other stimulant ingredients."

The companies have been set a deadline of 1 February to respond to the questions.

A spokesperson for the American Beverage Association said: "Mainstream energy drinks represent about 1% of the total US non-alcoholic beverages market.  Consumers can rest assured that energy drinks and their ingredients are safe, as they are regulated by FDA." 

The move is part of an on-going probe by US senators into the category. In September, the two lawmakers wrote to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding it consider introducing tougher restrictions on energy drink sales. However, the FDA responded in November saying it had no evidence to suggest the ingredients used in energy drinks were unsafe

The issue came to the fore after Monster and 5-Hour Energy products were cited in filings to the FDA relating to a number of deaths

A study released earlier this month suggested that hospital visits linked to energy drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011. However, the American Beverage Association branded the report “inaccurate” as it failed to account for the overall health of patients.

Expert analysis

Sports and Energy Drinks in the US

Sports and energy drinks, being at the premium end of soft drinks, was deeply impacted during the severe recession that resulted in slower or declining sales of even the most established mega brands in the beverages market as US consumers simply reduced their consumption of such beverages or have traded down to more economical options for quenching their thirst. The sports and energy drinks category continued to recover slowly as total volume grew by 12% in 2011, compared to a recessionary...

Sectors: Legislation, Soft drinks

Companies: Red Bull, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co, Dr Pepper

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