SILVER SPRING, Md. -- A group of 18 doctors, researchers and public health experts jointly urged the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday to take action on energy drinks in what they see as the possible risks to adolescents and children in consuming high amounts of caffeine, reported The New York Times.
"There is evidence in the published scientific literature that the caffeine levels in energy drinks pose serious potential health risks," the doctors and researchers wrote.
The FDA has been examining the safety of energy drinks after receiving reports of deaths and injuries potentially associated with the products, and federal reports have indicated a rise in the number of annual emergency room visits involving the drinks. Meanwhile, some energy-drink makers and many in the beverage industry have been countering such charges with medical and scientific evidence of their own.
In their letter to FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the signers of this letter argued that energy-drink makers have failed to meet the regulatory burden placed on them to show that the ingredients used in their beverages were safe, specifically where children, adolescents and young adults are concerned. As a result, the group urged the FDA to restrict caffeine content in the products and to require manufacturers to include caffeine content on product labels.
"Recent reports of health complications, emergency department visits, injuries, and deaths related to energy drink consumption have spawned widespread concern among scientists, health professionals, legislators, state and local law enforcement officials and consumers regarding the safety of highly caffeinated energy drinks," said the letter.
"Given the evidence summarized [in the letter], we conclude that there is neither sufficient evidence of safety nor a consensus of scientific opinion to conclude that the high levels of added caffeine in energy drinks are safe under the conditions of their intended use, as required by the FDA's Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) standards for food additives. To the contrary, the best available scientific evidence demonstrates a robust correlation between the caffeine levels in energy drinks and adverse health and safety consequences, particularly among children, adolescents and young adults," it said.
The letter concludes, "We ... urge the FDA to take prompt action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks, including applying the existing GRAS standard for sodas to energy drinks and other beverages that contain caffeine as an additive. We also urge the FDA to require that manufacturers include caffeine content on product labels."