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Food & Health : Laws & Politics Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM


Experts: Energy drinks need warning labels
By Jimmy Downs
Sep 24, 2008 - 11:29:03 AM

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A variety of energy drinks are available; the skinny "bullet" can shape is popular. Credit: wikipedia.
Wednesday Sep 24, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- Johns Hopkins scientists published a report in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependences this month saying energy drinks should carry a label to warn consumers of the potential health risks from caffeine.

 

"The caffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, yet the caffeine amounts are often unlabeled and few include warnings about the potential health risks of caffeine intoxication," said Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. co-author of the report.

 

Energy drinks has an estimated $5.4 billion business each year in the United States and the sales are expected to expand at a rate of 55 percent annually, according to a press release by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

 

The products are often targeted at teens and young adults and promoted for its performance-enhancing and stimulant effects. Without labeling, consumers drink it without knowing how much caffeine they are ingesting, Griffiths said.

 

Caffeine if too much is ingested could cause a condition called caffeine intoxication with symptoms including nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, tremors, rapid heartbeats (tachycardia), psychomotor agitation (restlessness and pacing) and even death.

 

A 2007 survey showed that of 496 students using energy drinks, 29 percent reported 'weekly jolt and crash episodes" and 19 percent reported heart palpitations after using energy drinks. Some people may mistakenly think energy drinks can offset the effect of alcohol and use a combination of energy drink and alcohol and then drive, which is a danger.

 

The report says an energy drink can contain 50 to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine compared to 35 mg in a 12-ouce cola drink and 80 to 150 mg in a 6-ounce cup of coffee.

 

The question is, do we have to put a label on coffee and cola drink if energy drinks are required to carry such a label?





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