Energy drinks are experiencing a lot of backlash for the negative side effects consumers are falling subject to. The biggest crusade lawmakers are embarking on, is reducing the amount of caffeine these drinks have in them. Some reports claim that energy drinks related emergency room visits have doubled from 10,068 in 2007 to 20,783 in 2011. The biggest cause being caffeine overload. Many of these energy drinks can contain up to 3X as much caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. According to K. Stephen Whiting Ph.D. of Phoenix Nutritionals, “high levels of caffeine targets the central nervous system and can lead to dehydration and loss of water-soluble nutrients. These effects cause agitation, sleep disturbance, and possibly long-term anxiety issues”. The main energy drink companies being targeted for more information about their ingredients are Monster, Red Bull and PepsiCo.
However, the lawmakers are muddling the issue. Red Bull in particular is a complicated factor for the caffeine overload issue. While Red Bull is being asked to divulge their recipe for ‘safety purposes’ they are also being accused of falsely advertising the amount of energy the drink actually provides consumers. The argument seems to be that the product is not worth the price, especially when considering that many other drinks have much higher amounts of caffeine, therefore providing more energy for cheaper. The lawsuit against Red Bull says that an 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull contains about 80 milligrams of caffeine, where a regular strength NoDoz (sleeping aid) contains 100 milligrams of caffeine and a 12 ounce Starbucks coffee contains ‘far more’ caffeine than the Red Bull. This contradiction certainly seems to weaken the lawmakers argument of dangerous caffeine levels in energy drinks.
This witch hunt against energy drinks doesn’t seem to have any real rhyme or reason, which is unfortunate because I share the suspicion that energy drinks may be unhealthy. It is impossible to agree with the method of these inquiries regarding Red Bull because they simply do not make sense. Lawmakers need to form a united front if they plan on creating a healthier product for the public. These conflicting investigations are discrediting the possibility that energy drinks may be unsafe.