The New York State Attorney General has issued subpoenas to three firms that make energy drinks, requesting information on company marketing and advertising practices.
Reuters reports that besides Pepsi, maker of AMP, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also sent subpoenas to Monster Beverage Corp and Living Essentials LLC, maker of the 5-Hour Energy drink.
Schneiderman is examining whether the companies overstated the benefits of ingredients in the drinks while understating the role of caffeine, the main active ingredient.
According to ABC News, last year the American Academy of Pediatrics said some products were harmful to children and young adults because they contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants.
Coca-Cola, the maker of NOS, and Dr Pepper Snapple, who makes Venom energy drinks, claimed they did not receive subpoenas.
Reuters notes that Monster is the leading U.S. energy drink by volume with nearly 39 percent of the U.S. market, but Austria’s Red Bull has the highest share by revenue, due to its premium price.
According to Beverage Digest, a trade publication and data service, energy drinks are among the fastest-growing products in the beverage sector.
U.S. retail sales of the drinks rose 16% last year to $8.9 billion, accounting for 12% of the carbonated-soft-drink category.
The Wall Street Journal reports that energy drinks are regulated more loosely than traditional sodas such as cola.
“In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration said it was concerned certain ingredients such as botanical extracts were being added to beverages and foods beyond their traditional use, which it said raised questions about safety.”
The Journal adds that product labels often don’t say how much caffeine is contained in the drink.
“The label on Monster’s 16-ounce can says it contains caffeine but doesn’t say how much; 5-hour Energy doesn’t say how much caffeine is contained in one bottle, but its website says it is about as much as a cup of coffee.”
Investigators seek to determine if additional ingredients like guarana—another source of caffeine—violates laws that ban including multiple sources of caffeine in one beverage without disclosing the overall amount.
Health experts conclude that all the boost from energy drinks is derived from caffeine, and that the other ingredients are simply a marketing gimmick.
Experts add that it’s safe for the average person to consume about 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, but overconsumption could cause heart problems, according to health experts.
“You’re better off drinking a cup of coffee,” said Tod Cooperman of ConsumerLab.com, which has conducted a chemical analysis of 5-hour Energy and other energy drinks.
A study Cooperman conducted on 5-hour Energy found it contains 207 milligrams of caffeine, far more than a typical cup of coffee’s 80-100 milligrams. “It’s a stimulant,” he said of 5-hour Energy.
New York State Attorney General’s actions follows New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sales of large-size sugary beverages by restaurants, mobile food carts, movie theaters and delis.
September 11th, 2012