Three federal legislators have sent letters to 14 marketers of energy drinks, asking for information about the products’ ingredients and for studies showing their risks and benefits to youth, The New York Times reports.
The Food and Drug Administration has received reports of 18 deaths and more than 150 injuries that mention the possible involvement of energy drinks, including 5-Hour Energy, Monster Energy and Red Bull. A new federal report found the number of emergency room visits involving energy drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011, reaching more than 20,000.
The letters were sent by Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts to companies including Monster Beverage, Red Bull, Rockstar and Living Essentials, which makes 5-Hour Energy.
The lawmakers asked the companies to explain how much caffeine was in their drinks. They also asked for studies the companies had run or underwritten on the effects of the drinks on children or young adults.
“There is very clearly a lack of understanding about the health effects of energy drinks and their ingredients especially on children and adolescents,” Senator Blumenthal said in a news release. “Energy drink makers are mistaken if they believe they have escaped regulatory oversight to safeguard consumer health.”
“Energy drink companies need to be clear with consumers about what they think their product is, what it contains, and what it can do,” added Representative Markey. “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.”