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January 17, 2013
WASHINGTON Troubled over the potential health risks of energy drinks, Democratic lawmakers on Thursday asked the burgeoning industry to provide details on its ingredients and marketing claims.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent letters to 14 companies, including Red Bull North America, 5-hour Energy's Living Essentials, Pepsi Co, Inc. and Monster Beverage Corp.
The lawmakers peppered the energy-drink makers with more than a dozen questions, asking them about topics ranging from the quantity of caffeine contained in their beverages to whether their products should be marketed and labeled as a dietary supplement or a conventional food. Some other questions asked about marketing to children and teenagers and whether studies had been conducted to determine if the products were safe for the young demographic.
Durbin and Blumenthal have been leading efforts in the Senate to step up pressure on energy-drink companies following unsubstantiated reports that link the caffeinated products to several deaths and other grave injuries.
Energy drink companies need to be clear with consumers about what they think their product is, what it contains, and what it can do," said Rep. Markey, who previously asked the FTC to investigate the claims of energy drinks. The broad claims made by these products and their blurred classification in the marketplace make it difficult for consumers, particularly young consumers, from making informed decisions about their consumption."
Records have revealed reports of 13 deaths connected to 5-hour Energy drinks, and five deaths have been linked to Monster Energy drinks. FDA is looking into the incidents and the overall safety of the energy-drink market. However, it has underscored the reports are merely allegations and that it does not draw conclusions until it completes its investigations. Living Essentials and Monster have denied knowledge that their products have caused any deaths.
But lawmakers haven't relented in their quest for answers on a multibillion-dollar market that targets young people.
As new products and new patterns of energy drink use are emerging, we are working closely with the FDA to strengthen our understanding of the potential health impact of these products," Durbin said. "Energy drink companies can partner in our effort by being forthcoming about the ingredients in their products and the processes they use to determine those ingredients are safe."
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