Industry rejects unsafe claims over energy drinks

The Australian Beverages Council, representing the domestic energy drink industry, has questioned the claims from a recent University of Adelaide study suggesting energy drinks are some unique contributor to hospital admissions.

“While the industry notes the survey-size limitations of the study at just 60 people, the claim that energy drinks are uniquely contributing to hospitalisations is simply not right,” the Council’s CEO, Geoff Parker, said.

“This claim is sensationalist at best and what the authors actually found was that some people, after consuming too much caffeine, had an adverse reaction. Unfortunately, (the fact that) ‘drinking excessive coffee causes your heart to race’ doesn’t grab a headline.”

Australian Government data released in 2013 as part of a broad-ranging review into caffeine shows the average 14 to 16 year old gets just 3.8 per cent of his or her daily dietary caffeine from energy drinks. This compares with 32 per cent from coffee, 5.2 per cent from flavoured milk and 4.5 per cent from confectionery and muesli bars.

“If caffeine is the concern for these experts behind the Adelaide study, which obviously it is, then they should be calling for more regulations on the caffeine levels in coffee, and chocolate to carry warning statements on packs – (for example) ‘not suitable for teenagers’,” Mr Parker said.

He added that, by law in Australia, energy drinks must be clearly labelled that they are not suitable for children and no more than two 250ml servings per day should be consumed. These regulations, in addition to a cap on the caffeine content – equivalent to an instant cup of coffee for a 250ml can [80mg] – “make our energy-drink regulations the toughest in the world”, he said.

“The very simple facts about energy drinks in Australia are pretty clear: the category is already heavily regulated, the contribution of caffeine to the diet of 13 to 40 year olds from energy drinks pales in comparison with other foods and drinks containing caffeine, all ingredient combinations are perfectly safe and, like coffee, energy drinks should be consumed in moderation.”

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