The insider of natural products: yesterday and today – Energy drinks

This series looks back at the stories we covered in Natural Products Insider 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years ago this month. In addition to providing an interesting story, I explore why these stories are still relevant today.

Then (October 2012): Throughout 2011 and 2012, we reported on the growing attacks on energy drinks from various places, and in our October 2012 issue of Natural Products Insider, we offered an update and summary. The main concerns were about the amount of caffeine in energy drinks, as well as the sources of this caffeine. Questions were also asked about the distinction between functional drinks and liquid food supplements.

In 2011, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) called energy drinks a threat to public health. In the spring of 2012, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) wrote a letter to the FDA, asking for clarification and action on high caffeine energy drinks and clarification on the delineation between drinks and liquid dietary supplements. . He asked for an in-depth safety assessment and called out specific ingredients: taurine, ginseng and guarana. In late summer 2012, the FDA provided its official response. The agency said current data does not show a widespread caffeine consumption problem due to energy drinks. The FDA informed the senator that the amounts of caffeine in energy drinks are similar to the amounts found in common beverages such as coffee.

Now: Energy drinks are still on the market. Coffee too. Depending on which market research company you listen to, the energy drink market is between US$40 billion and US$70 billion, with an expected growth of 5-9% per year. Coffee is still very popular too (and remains my caffeine source of choice). People love their caffeine, and they’ve had it for thousands of years. That said, I’m not an advocate of higher and higher concentrations of caffeine, and I’m not a fan of kids drinking large amounts of energy drinks (or caffeinated, high-sugar sodas).

The reason I selected this article from 10 years ago is not to argue for or against caffeine. I chose this article to highlight an example from Senator Durbin’s long history challenging the safety of products in our marketplace. He’s been doing it for nearly 30 years. Often his approach has been misleading. I believe its purpose is to require pre-market approval for dietary supplements, herbs/plants and ingredients in these products. He and other critics of our industry and the way it is regulated would prefer to see our products treated like prescription drugs. This, of course, would eliminate our industry and our products.

This may sound weird to some, but for those of us who were around before the Dietary Supplements, Health, and Education Act (DSHEA) became law in 1994, this was the reality. The FDA considered our products to be unapproved drugs or unapproved food additives. In either case, they were not considered legal products. It took an act of Congress to change the law and protect consumer access to vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes and other products. Senator Durbin and other opponents of DSHEA and our industry would like to see another act of Congress to overturn DSHEA and severely restrict access to dietary supplements. I sense that the next battle on this topic is brewing.

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