A call for warnings on energy drinks

September 24, 2008 3:08:43 PM PDT
Doctors researching the effects of caffeine are calling for warning labels on popular energy drinks. Some of the drinks contain caffeine levels equivalent to 14 cans of Coca-Cola, according to researchers.

Experts are concerned that the labels do not make clear just how much caffeine is in these drinks, which causes consumers to take unnecessary health risks.

Since the introduction of Red Bull in 1997, the market for energy drinks has exploded in the United States.

The active ingredient is typically caffeine, and lots of it. A 12 oz. can of Coke contains 35 milligrams of caffeine, while energy drinks can contain more than 500 milligrams.

Doctors from Johns Hopkins University say the beverages need clear labels about their caffeine content and warnings regarding possible health effects from caffeine overdose.

Caffeine can cause headaches, nausea and insomnia in even moderate amounts.

In large doses, it can trigger rapid heartbeat, tremors, and in rare instances, death.

The FDA has approved a caffeine level of 71 milligrams per can, but researchers find they are not enforcing this ruling. At least 130 energy drinks now exceed the FDA's acceptable caffeine limit.

Researchers point out that the FDA requires a warning on "No Doz" pills that contain 100 milligrams of caffeine, but there is no similar label for energy drinks which have caffeine levels double, triple or even five times as much.