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Canadian energy drink ‘drug’ designation not in consumer interest, CBA

26-Sep-2011
Last updated on 26-Sep-2011 at 14:54 GMT

Tough new regulations concerning classifying energy drinks as 'stimulant drug containing drinks' in Canada are not in the interest of consumers, according to the Canadian Beverage Association (CBA).

Federal department Health Canada published a report in November 2010, recommending that energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster should be renamed along the lines outlined above and only sold under pharmacist supervision.

Health Canada's panel claimed that stricter control of energy drinks would protect consumers, especially the young who buy such caffeinated drinks at convenience stores, by informing them that such products are “drug products not foods”.

The introduction of the report recommendation is now being actively considered by the Canadian health ministry – minister Leona Aglukkaq has considered tightening controls on energy drinks – but its radical nature has upset industry concerns such as the CBA.

Science-based regulations

The CBA said it supported science-based regulations for all food and beverage products, but insisted these must be developed using “detailed scientific analysis, risk assessments, and supported by a robust pharmacovigilance analysis”.

“In the absence of these mandatories, the interests of Canadian consumers are not being met,” said the trade body.

It added: We assert that the conclusions reached in the Expert Panel Report are based on flawed assessments and assumptions of the data put before the panel.”

As a result of this, the CBA complained that Canadian recommendations “run counter” to how these products are regulated in 160 countries world-wide, including the EU, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The panel’s recommendations were “completely unsubstantiated in science and their conclusions are unreasonable” the CBA added.

Demanding requirements

An independent scientific analysis of the data funded by industry, and provided to the panel by Health Canada, included a review and assessment of all reported adverse effects, the CBA said.

“Based on their independent analysis, these third-party experts concluded that the linking of the alleged adverse reactions to the use of energy drinks were unfounded based on the data before Health Canada," said the body.

“Their analysis does not show any supportive facts for the panel's position and fully supports the multitude of international assessments that energy drinks and their ingredients are safe.”

The CBA also complained that ther panel’s definition of drinks containing stimulants meant that all forms of tea and coffee should fall under the same definition as energy drinks, but the trade body said they were not subject to the same “demanding requirements”.

On a per ml comparison, the CBA said that "on average" energy drinks contained half the caffeine found in a regular cup of filtered drip coffee: 237ml of coffee contained around 179mgs of caffeine, while a “similar-sized” energy drink contained only 80mg on average.

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