Durbin, Blumenthal: FDA Taking Energy Drink Concerns Seriously

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After a meeting with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today said they are confident that the FDA is taking their concerns about energy drinks seriously.  The Senators said:

“At our meeting the FDA made it clear it is moving forward in a number of areas to protect vulnerable populations against high levels of caffeine in energy drinks. The energy drink makers are mistaken if they believe they have escaped regulatory oversight to safeguard consumer health.


“We urged the FDA to convene an expert panel, as quickly as possible but no later than early in the new year, to discuss the effects of consumption of caffeine and other stimulants by consumers. We also requested that the FDA take swift action regarding findings that a number of energy drinks contain at least 20 percent more caffeine than the products’ labels disclosed. We believe that these mislabeled products require enforcement action.


“We were heartened by the positive response by FDA officials to our points in these areas and others, such as caffeine levels, additives and labeling.”


Several agencies and organizations have conducted research on the impact of caffeine, especially on children and adolescents.  A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that energy drinks pose potentially serious health risks. The report found that between 2005 –2009, the number of emergency room visits due to energy drinks increased ten-fold from 1,128 to 13,114 visits.  A major factor contributing to these hospitalizations is the exceptionally high levels of caffeine in energy drinks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents should not consume caffeine.

In a November letter, following reports that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received 13 adverse event reports of fatalities following the consumption of 5-Hour Energy, Durbin and Blumenthal called for today’s meeting with the FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, to discuss the steps the agency is taking to ensure the safety of energy drinks.

In an October letter, after the FDA revealed an investigation into five deaths that occurred following the consumption of Monster energy drinks, Durbin and Blumenthal challenged the FDA to quickly identify and recommend remedies for weaknesses and loopholes in current law that are exploited by energy drink manufacturers in order to avoid oversight.  They also called on the FDA to investigate the interactions between caffeine and stimulants in energy drinks and to assess the health risks associated with caffeine consumption by children and adolescents. 

In a September letter, Durbin and Blumenthal asked the FDA to respond to their specific concerns regarding the interaction of ingredients in energy drinks and the effect that the caffeine in energy drinks has on children and adolescents.  In April, Durbin sent a similar letter to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg; however, both Senators felt that the FDA’s response did not fully address the specific concerns that were laid out.