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Taranaki Daily News: Caffeine is a drug

Posted in In the News on November 9th, 2009.

Virginia Winder of the Taranaki Daily News writes about the new ultra-high caffeine energy drinks available on the market, and why there is rising concern about their availability.

The drinks, which are legally available to teens and children, also contain guarana, a stimulant more potent than caffeine – indeed, the sale of drinks containing guarana have been banned in the US.  Taurine is another ingredient used, and there have been concerns about its effects when combined with alcohol.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“In this country, energy drinks like Red Bull or V fall in a category called formulated caffeinated beverages and should contain no less than 145mg of caffeine per litre and no more than 320mg per litre. Energy shots far surpass that limit – some are equivalent to 3300mg of caffeine per litre – so have been reclassified as dietary supplements. Elaine Rush, professor of nutrition at AUT University, is against the reclassification.

“”I think that’s a gross misuse of our food regulations. I don’t think we should have a class of dietary supplements. I think they should be sold as drugs and come under the same regulations.”

“She says caffeine has never been ingested at such high doses by so many people and the long-term effects are unknown.

“Geoff Allen, director of compliance and investigation for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, says efforts are being made to update dietary supplement legislation, which was put in place about 24 years ago when there were a small number of products on the market. He believes it’s likely that energy shots will be reclassified as supplemented foods.

“”We have asked the ESR to do a risk profile for us, which will look at all sources of caffeine in people’s diets.”

“As part of that study, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research will look at energy drinks and shots.”

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