Food Safety and the Regulation of Energy DrinksOctober 14, 2014
As the go-to caffeine buzz for college students and high schoolers, health officials have long been skeptical about the effects of energy drinks. With their lack of nutritional labelling, energy drinks are a huge concern for the health of young people. Packed with sugar, high caffeine levels, taurine (increases energy levels) and ginseng, energy drinks have long been claimed as a health product—something which is now changing. After several deaths related to the consumption of energy drinks, and many others who claim energy drink companies use false advertising, government regulatory affairs has stepped in to change the way energy drinks are sold in Canada.
Classification of Energy Drinks
In the past, pharmaceutical regulatory affairs programs would have classified energy drinks as a natural health product. But, the Canadian government has now established that energy drinks must be classified as food so that they are subject to enforcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). This means energy drinks in the country are now forced to follow strict regulations, such as:
- Caffeine content is limited to 180mg, equivalent to a medium coffee
- Limits on mineral and vitamin additives
- The sale of alcoholic energy drinks is prohibited
- Companies must provide labels displaying caffeine content and nutritional information
Red Bull Lawsuit
Austrian energy drink giant Red Bull has recently been successfully sued over claims of false advertising. The company’s slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” has been argued as false advertisement of the effects Red Bull will actually give. The lawsuit stated that there is no evidence that Red Bull is more successful at providing energy than a cup of coffee, nor is it worth the additional price. To settle the lawsuit, Red Bull offered $10 to anyone who had purchased Red Bull since 2002.
Food and Drug Safety
Pharmaceutical courses like clinical research and drug safety have long been monitoring the levels of caffeine in energy drinks. Caffeine is the most widely used drug on the planet, yet many forget that as a drug, caffeine can cause serious changes to the body. The current healthy amount of caffeine an adult should ingest per day is a maximum of 400mg. Common side effects of too much caffeine (in the 500-600mg range) include insomnia, muscle tremours and a fast heartbeat. Before regulations came into play, the typical energy drink had above 200mg or more of caffeine per serving. In the US, 5 Hour Energy Drink has 242mg of caffeine while Monster has an average of 184mg. With a diploma earned from food quality training, you may find a career in food regulation, where it will be your job to reduce and minimize customer complaints. In this career, you will have a primary role in the regulation of food products, which now includes energy drinks. Food quality training may also give you a role in a company’s legal battles, such as the recent dispute between Red Bull about the false advertising of their product.