You know “extreme” caffeination has jumped the shark when you start to see products like this:
Heck, there are even caffeinated toothpicks for afterwards (with B12 added, so they must be healthy[ish])!
Among all such products, though, energy drinks reign supreme – and cause the most concern. As as we told you about last year, these drinks can contain some crazy-high levels caffeine, not to mention loads of sugar.
Last week, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the results of their investigation of these beverages. Their report, What’s All the Buzz About?, only adds to earlier findings.
They, too, found labeling of caffeine content to be hit-and-miss – and the actual content sometimes overwhelmingly high. Some products contain other stimulants in addition to the caffeine. All market to youth while insisting that they don’t. Some are marketed as beverages, while others are marketed as supplements, often with wacky claims about functional benefits “that are not generally evaluated or substantiated by the FDA.”
- PepsiCo’s AMP Energy Boost claims that it will help “energize and hydrate the body,” while Coca-Cola’s NOS promises “50% more focus”.
- Monster energy pledges that its products will provide a “big, bad buzz.”
- Dr. Pepper’s Venom highlights its products ability [sic] to improve “up to the nanosecond performance.”
- Red Bull claims “increased concentration and reaction speed” and “stimulated metabolism.”
Unsurprisingly, the report sounds a call for better and more consistent labeling, in which case, whether you buy the products or not, you could at least make an informed choice – just as Big Food encourages us to do when they tout “personal responsibility.”
Of course, taking responsibility – like making real choices – requires having access to information. If Big Food wants people to take the first, they’ve got to provide the latter.