energy drinks changing labels to avoid FDA scrutiny
I wrote about energy drinks last year - see "are energy drinks bad for you?" I thought this was an interesting follow-up. From the consumeraffairs website:
Regulators and health advocates have been pouring scalding criticism on high-caffeine energy drinks the last few years following reports of death and illness unofficially attributed to the potent drinks.
But now the energy drinks are fighting back. Monster Beverage, makers of Monster Energy, and Rockstar Energy are changing their labels and product descriptions to wriggle out from under the jurisidiction of the Food and Drug Administration.
Henceforth, Monster and Rockstar drinks will be marketed as beverages rather than dietary supplements. Among the advantages of the change -- the companies will not be obligated to inform the feds when they learn of deaths and injuries attributed to their products.
Monster will also be disclosing its caffeine content for the first time and the results may surprise some critics. According to the company, a 16-ounce can of Monster's leading drinks contain 140 to 160 milligrams of caffeine, less than half the 330 mg found in a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee.
The moves come as criticism of the drinks grows. Earlier this week, a group of 18 doctors and researchers urged the FDA to do more to protect adolescents and children from the possible risks of high caffeine consumption.
The article goes on to discuss the energy drinks' side of the debate, basically saying (and I'm paraphrasing) they don't believe their products are causing the deaths, they haven't seen proof, yadda yadda yadda.
Maybe energy drinks are killing people; maybe they aren't. Maybe they're partially responsible - just one of several factors involved. Either way, it's difficult to argue they're good for you. The best argument they can make is that they aren't involved in people's deaths.
The fact that they're changing their labeling tells me all I need to know. I'd feel better about them if they showed me their peer reviewed studies showing they were safe. Or if they showed me why, specifically, they weren't responsible in these deaths. Changing their labels is like saying "Get out of my face; I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and there's nothing you can do about it."
Should adults drink them? I think you can make a better choice. Here are 4 points from "are energy drinks bad for you?":
- They have lots of sugar; I usually recommend cutting as much pure sugar out of your diet as possible.
- They have additional ingredients which amplify the effects of caffeine, which may wreak havoc with your sleep, eating habits, or mood, if you're sensitive to caffeine.
- They are high in calories; I'm generally against drinking your calories, especially if you're trying to lose weight.
- And most importantly, they can rot your teeth.
Should teenagers drink them? I don't want my boys drinking them! For all of the above reasons, plus:
- Teenagers tend towards excess rather than moderation. One can could easily become a 2-3 can per day habit.
- Teenagers will drink these much faster than most people drink a cup of coffee, which would be like a caffeine-bomb in their body.
- Teenagers will drink these with all sorts of crazy food-drink-activity combinations - candy, alcohol, during strenuous activity.. They'll find ways we haven't even thought of to put additional stress on their body.
Bottom Line - lay off the energy drinks. New label or not, there's no compelling reason to drink them.