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January 17, 2013 11:43 pm
US lawmakers stepped up their investigation into energy drinks on Thursday, demanding that companies making products such as Monster, AMP, Red Bull and Rockstar hand over internal documents that prove they are safe.
The highly caffeinated drinks have been the subject of government scrutiny in recent months since the US Food and Drug Administration disclosed reports of several deaths associated with Monster and 5-hour Energy.
The controversy has also called into question why energy drinks, which are usually sold next to regular beverages such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, are classified as nutritional supplements and face looser regulation.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Richard Durbin and Representative Ed Markey asked 14 energy drink companies to explain why they classify themselves as supplements and to provide information about the caffeine content of their drinks and any safety studies they have undertaken.
“One of the major concerns surrounding energy drinks is the potential health risks to children who consume these products,” they wrote. “Furthermore, questions have been raised about the combination of high levels of caffeine with other stimulant ingredients.”
Those fears were buttressed by a recent study by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that found emergency room visits linked to energy drinks jumped from 10,000 in 2007 to 20,000 in 2011.
The FDA is studying the relationship between caffeine and other stimulants such as guarana and taurine that are in energy drinks. The health regulator said in November that it had not found studies showing those mixes of ingredients to be dangerous.
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