Managing caffeinated energy drinks

October 18th, 2011

Wow, it sure has been a while. It’s nice to be back in the swing of all-things-blog.

There has been heightened buzz in the news world lately regarding energy drinks. Earlier this month, Health Canada launched a “New Approach on Energy Drinks” and planned action to better protect Canadian consumers. Immediately after, Dietitians across the Nation rejoiced.

So, what exactly is the good news? The “new measures” will help Canadians make informed decisions about energy drinks, reducing the chances of over consumption of caffeine and other ingredients such as vitamins. They will also make it easier for parents to monitor the caffeine intake of their children and teens.

Until now, energy drinks were classified as a Natural Health Product (NHP), as a result, were not required to put a nutrition facts table on their products. After the proposed changes are implemented, most energy drinks will be classified in legal terms as a food, as they are in other countries like the United States and Europe. This means that the nutrition facts table will be on every can, and inspection powers will rest with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Under the new measures, Heath Canada will also require:

  • Limit the amount of caffeine that can be included in an energy drink;
  • In addition to current labels that identify groups for whom high levels of caffeine are not recommended (e.g., children, pregnant/breastfeeding women), labels would indicate the levels of caffeine in the product;
  • Requirements to include ingredient, nutrition and allergen declaration, as with all other foods;
  • Ensure that types and levels of vitamins and minerals are within safe levels;
  • Warning statement advising not to mix with alcohol.

For me personally, one of the most promising aspects of the proposed changes centers on formulation restrictions. For example, the “new measures” will limit the amount of caffeine energy drinks can contain – specifically – a maximum of 400 mg per litre or 180 mg per single-serve container, which Health Canada defines as 591 ml or less.

Health Canada will be working with industry over the next six months to coordinate this transition. It is expected that products would meet the new requirements within the next 18 to 24 months.

More information is available. Check out:

Frequently asked questions for parents

Questions and answers about the proposed changes

More details on these proposed changes

Energy Drinks – Video