U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is continuing his crusade against energy drinks. Last year, he asked the Food and Drug Administration to require them to disclose their ingredients. Now, he’s asking the manufacturers not to market them to children. “Last week, 18 scientists sent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a letter, challenging the presumption of safety of high levels of caffeine in energy drinks, particularly for children,” he said.
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These drinks, Red Bull and Monster for example, have a lot of caffeine: One container can have as much as the caffeine in 16 cans of soda, or four cups of strong coffee, and consumers will suck down perhaps two bottles in the time a coffee drinker would drink one cup, so the equivalent is a jolt eight times as strong as coffee, or 32 times as strong as a can of soda, says Dr. Barbara J. Deal, a cardiologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
“If you consume energy drinks before sports participation and go out for a good workout, you may at least have an anxiety attack, tremors or elevated blood pressure, and at the worst have seizures or cardiac arrest,” she said.
Energy drinks are not now regulated by the FDA.
The manufacturers say they do not market to customers under age 18, but Durbin says he has evidence that that is not so.