The FDA has proposed that caffeine content in soft drinks be limited to 65 milligrams per 12 ounces. For the most part this unwritten rule has been followed by the leaders in the soft drink industry.
In the last decade, there has been an insurgence of energy drinks flooding the market. These drinks contain numerous ingredients such as amino acids, vitamins, sugar, and caffeine. They boast the ability to increase energy, improve performance, and provide improved mental clarity.
Because there is not a written law on labeling or the amount of caffeine that can be legally put in a beverage, most energy drinks do not disclose the caffeine content, nor follow the unwritten FDA proposal of 65 mg per 12 ounces.
The Journal of Analytical Toxicology published information in March of this year that may be shocking to some, but definitely carries with it a warning about the safety of energy drinks on the market today.
They tested the caffeine content of more than 15 popular energy drinks on the market today. They found that one drink contained as much as 141 mg per 8 ounces, while the majority of drinks contained 65-75 mg per 8 ounces, well above the FDA proposed amount.
Caffeine can cause serious health consequences in certain sub-populations. In children, caffeine can result in headaches and sleep disturbance, while women who are carrying children can be at risk for spontaneous miscarriage and low birth weight babies. As well those with heart conditions and anxiety can suffer ill effects of too much caffeine.
Based on the information in this preliminary study, most energy drinks are unsafe for children, pregnant women, and those suffering from chronic conditions such as heart disease and anxiety. Because of the lack of labeling laws and regulation of caffeine content, these at risk populations may unknowingly cause serious health consequences.