A letter has been sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has been signed by one hundred scientists and physicians. The letter calls for more regulation of increasingly popular energy drinks because of the high content of caffeine, which places young drinkers at risk of caffeine intoxication and higher rates of alcohol-related injuries.
Roland Griffiths, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, wrote the letter that was sent to the FDA. The letter requested that the FDA require the drinks’ caffeine content to be listed on the can, to establish a limit on the amount of stimulant allowed in the energy drinks and to require warning labels.
According to Packaged Facts, the U.S. market for energy drinks was estimated at $5.4 billion in 2006 and is growing by 55 percent each year. The United States is the world’s largest consumer by volume of energy drinks, which accounted for approximately 290 gallons in 2007, according to Zenith International, a British consulting group. Americans consume 3.8 quarts per person per year.
Red Bull, the top-selling energy drink in the United States, has 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8.3 ounce can, which is equivalent to drinking one cup of coffee. Spokeswoman Patrice Radden said that the amount is well below the 400 milligrams per day caffeine limit at which, “the general population is not at risk from potential adverse effects from caffeine,” according to health authorities around the world.
Energy drinks are marketed to young men as performance enhancers, as ads and promotions are frequently tied to extreme sports. The market for energy drinks in the United States began in 1997 with the introduction of Red Bull, but it has grown exponentially.
Energy drinks are advertised as a way to increase endurance, reaction time and concentration. Some of the energy drinks on the market include Red Bull, Full Throttle, AMP Energy and No Fear.