October 25, 2012 — A study conducted by Consumer Reports has tested the caffeine content in 27 energy drinks. They found that most of the products either did not list the amount of caffeine on the label, or the labeled amount of caffeine deviated from the actual caffeine content. Because many energy drinks are regulated as “dietary supplements” rather than food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to specify the amount of caffeine in their product.
The investigators selected their test samples by purchasing top-selling energy drinks online or in stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, and tested three lots of each product. They found that the amount of caffeine ranged from 6 milligrams to 242 milligrams per serving. The most caffeinated beverage was 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength; the lowest was in 5-Hour Energy Decaf.
The researchers also found that 11 out of 27 products did not specify the amount of caffeine in their product. Although 16 products did list the total amount of caffeine, Consumer Reports found that 5 products had more caffeine than was on the label — an average of 20% higher. Those five products included Arizona Energy, Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel, Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy, Venom Energy, and Nestle Jamba. One product had 70% less caffeine than was on the label — Archer Farms Energy Drink Juice, which is the private label of Target Corp.
The study comes in the wake of an energy drink lawsuit filed last week on behalf of a 14 year-old girl who died of a cardiac arrest after drinking two Monster energy drinks in a 24-hour period. The autopsy reported her cause of death as caffeine toxicity exacerbated by an underlying genetic heart disorder.
Last week, the FDA also reported that there have been at least five deaths in the last few years associated with Monster energy drinks.
When Consumer Reports pressed Monster Beverage why they don’t list the amount of caffeine in their products, an official said, “There is no legal or commercial business requirement to do so. And because our products are completely safe, and the actual numbers are not meaningful to most consumers.”
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