In response to a series of letters from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that it is currently reviewing the safety of energy drinks containing caffeine and other ingredients that act as stimulants and may require regulatory action if evidence of a health risk is found. Since April, both Senators have been calling on the FDA to take action to regulate energy drinks and to investigate the safety of ingredients with stimulant properties in combination with caffeine in energy drinks, particularly as they affect young consumers.
The FDA letter, which was released Nov. 27 by Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, follows disclosures that the agency received reports of 18 deaths and over 150 injuries that mentioned the possible involvement of energy drinks. In the letter to Durbin and Blumenthal, the FDA states that because energy drinks are new products that have raised safety concerns, they warrant investigation: “New products and patterns of use require us to remain vigilant, and we are working to strengthen our understanding of the nature of ‘energy drinks’ and any causal risks to health.”
In addition, the FDA stated in the letter that studies examining other ingredients, like taurine, that are often used in energy drinks had determined those substances were safe. The agency also said that a survey suggested that energy drinks constitute a small portion of the caffeine consumed in this country, even by teenagers.
The specifics of the FDA’s review of energy drinks are not outlined, but according to the FDA, the review includes examining adverse event reports and consulting with experts outside of FDA to better understand risks posed by energy drinks, additives, and high levels of caffeine consumption in youth. If their review finds safety concerns, the FDA will consider regulatory action.