In response to a series of letters from Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard
Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have
confirmed that the agency is currently reviewing the safety of energy drinks containing caffeine and other ingredients that act as stimulants and may require regulatory action if evidence of a health risk is found. Since April,
both senators have urged FDA to take action to regulate energy drinks and to
investigate the safety of ingredients with stimulant properties in combination
with caffeine in energy drinks, particularly as they affect young consumers.

In a recent press release, the senators note that “There is very clearly a lack of
understanding about the health effects of energy drinks and their ingredients
especially on children and adolescents,” and although they are glad to see
that FDA is undertaking a review, more needs to be done and quickly. “For
instance, FDA can and should take action now to regulate energy drinks that
are marketed as beverages, like Red Bull, which has more than the standard of
71 mg of caffeine per 12oz [the level to] which beverages like Coke and Pepsi
are held. I will be calling Commissioner [Margaret] Hamburg for a meeting as
soon as possible to review the FDA’s plan,” said Durbin.

In its most recent letter to Durbin and Blumenthal, FDA states that because
energy drinks are new products that have raised safety concerns, they warrant
investigation. “New products and patterns of use require us to remain
vigilant, and we are working to strengthen our understanding of the nature of
‘energy drinks’ and any causal risks to health.”

The specifics of FDA’s review of energy drinks are not outlined in the letter,
but according to FDA, the review includes examining adverse event reports
and consulting with experts outside FDA to better understand risks posed by
energy drinks, additives, and high levels of caffeine consumption in youth.
If the review identifies safety concerns, FDA says it will consider regulatory
action. Additional information about this topic appears in Issue 462 of this
Update.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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