Researchers question energy drink safety (again); Red Bull points to EU backing

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Energy drinks, Caffeine, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Energy drinks are being criticised over stimulant levels but Red Bull says EU authorities have found them to be safe
Energy drinks are being criticised over stimulant levels but Red Bull says EU authorities have found them to be safe
US researchers have singled out children and teenagers with heart abnormalities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other health or emotional problems as being susceptible to adverse events when consuming energy drinks.

The damning report about a sector valued at more than $5bn by drinks market analyst Canadean, has just been published online in Pediatrics​ and follows a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) commentary which slammed energy drinks over caffeine levels that can push above 500mg per serving.

Co-author of the Pediatrics​ study, Dr Steven E. Lipshultz, the chairman of pediatrics at the University of Miami, said energy drinks were, “a set of products that are totally unregulated and have no therapeutic benefit”.

It is estimated up to 50 per cent of young Americans consume energy drinks, often mixing them with alcohol.

Like the JAMA commentary, Dr Lipshultz and his fellow researchers pointed to the fact caffeine levels were not regulated in energy drinks, nor were other stimulants such as taurine and guarana.

European backing

Responding, global energy drinks leader Red Bull pointed to European Union research that backed the safety of the products.

“The EU’s food safety authorities spent 10 years thoroughly examining energy drinks and concluded that the key ingredients [taurine and glucuronolactone] are of no concern,"​ Red Bull said.

"This article just draws together material from the internet, and largely ignores the genuine, scientifically rigorous examination of energy drinks by reputable national authorities. The effects of caffeine are well-known, and as an 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee [80 mg], it should be treated accordingly."

The researchers noted that of 5448 US caffeine overdoses reported in 2007, 46 percent occurred in under-19s before concluding: “Long-term research should aim to understand the effects in at-risk populations. Toxicity surveillance should be improved, and regulations of energy-drink sales and consumption should be based on appropriate research.”

The study is available online here​.



Volume 127, Number 3, March 2011

Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults’

Authors: Sara M. Seifert, Judith L. Schaechter, Eugene R. Hershorin and Steven E. Lipshultz

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MD has come to mean: DocTARD

Posted by Phil Peterson,

Thanks Veritas -- these DocTARDS didn't publish the fact that Star Bucks Venti contains more than twice the cafieine and other natually occurring yet powerful methyl xanthines than even the strongest energy drink. Venti contains 440+ Mgs of caffeine. But like you said...this doesn't support their hype and deception.

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Another bad piece of "science"

Posted by Veritas,

The authors of the Pediatrics paper take a new approach to science. They don't use PubMed any more as the only source to search for literature. Instead they use Google. Whilst any journalist would double-check the information from such sources, Lipshultz et al. did not.

They also forgot to mention that the 5448 US caffeine overdoses reported in 2007 only refer to pharmaceutical products and NOT to energy drinks! Of course, had they mentioned that in their paper, the media would not be able to write their sensational stories.

Finally, the authors quoted widely (and to a large extent in a misleading way) from a report from the New Zealand Food Safety Authorities. What they did not quote, is this great common sense statement from the authorities Down Under:

“These products are labelled with their caffeine content, and just as you wouldn’t hand a child a double long black, you shouldn’t give them energy drinks”.

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