New Canadian regulations that took effect January 1, 2013, have reclassified
energy drinks as food instead of natural health products and capped their
caffeine content at 180 mg per serving. First proposed in 2011, the regulations
aim to address concerns that consumers imbibing such beverages
could exceed the maximum caffeine intake levels recommended by Health
Canada. “Therefore, Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment of the
potential hazards and exposure associated with the common ingredients
found in these caffeinated beverages (including caffeine, vitamins, minerals,
taurine etc.),” stated the agency, which ultimately reported that children and
adolescents were “most at risk of exceeding Health Canada’s Recommended
Maximum Daily Intakes (RMDI) for caffeine because of the volumes potentially
consumed and the lower RMDI established for these populations, in
comparison to adults.”

In particular, the new regulations establish “an initial maximum limit for total
caffeine of 400 mg per liter with a maximum amount of caffeine not to exceed
180 mg per container presented as a single-serve container.” Under these
rules, Health Canada will treat any container that cannot be resealed or any
resealable container less than 591 mL as a single-serve container. In addition
to bearing labels that identify the amount of caffeine from all sources, these
products must also bear a statement that the beverage is a “high source
of caffeine” and “not recommended for children, pregnant/breastfeeding
women, individuals sensitive to caffeine,” as well as warning against mixing
the beverage with alcohol.

According to the Toronto Star, the changes have required companies to reformulate 28 of 96 reclassified beverages to meet the new limits. “For the next five years, companies have only temporary authorization to sell energy drinks, during which they’ll be required to report annual data on sales, consumption and incidents,” concludes the December 31, 2012, article. “As of January, only the reformulated versions can be made, although stores don’t have to pull drinks already in stock. For products that already met the requirements, labels don’t have to be updated until December 2013.”

About The Author


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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