New York's attorney general is investigating the marketing of energy drinks.
Eric T. Schneiderman issued subpoenas in July to PepsiCo (AMP), Monster Beverage Corp. and Living Essentials (5-hour Energy), asking for information on their marketing and advertising practices, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The investigation, which is in its early stages, could expand to other companies.
A key concern is whether the products overstate the benefits of “exotic-sounding ingredients” like botanical extracts, and understate the role of caffeine, according to the WSJ.
Just weeks ago, in response to a call for an investigation of the beverages by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that there is no evidence that the caffeine in energy drinks is a safety risk.
After completing an updated assessment, the FDA stated that most studies have not shown ill effects from consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, and that "even when the consumption of energy drinks is considered, most of the caffeine consumed comes from what is naturally present in coffee and tea."
Energy beverages’ labels often don’t state their caffeine content. According to the American Beverage Association, most “mainstream” energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similar-size cup of coffeehouse coffee. However, ConsumerLab.com, which has conducted a chemical analysis of energy drinks, found that 5-hour Energy contains 207 milligrams of caffeine, versus 80 to 100 in a typical cup of coffee, reported the WSJ.
Various media reports have suggested that the New York AG may be looking into whether marketing is misleadingly positioning energy beverages as dietary supplements, or the safety of adding the botanical extracts, or whether state laws regulating disclosure of multiple caffeine sources in a beverage might have been violated.
The New York AG’s office hasn’t commented on the reports.
The FDA has not defined “energy drinks,” although the drinks come under its general regulations.
The FDA is scheduled to release a “drinks draft guidance” that “should help both the FDA and industry draw a line between beverages and liquid dietary supplements,” the agency noted in its report earlier this month.