has done more than a few blog posts recently regarding the dangers inherent in energy drinks. Many of the energy drinks being marketed today are labeled as dietary supplements, not beverages. Because of this, the requirements for their labeling are quite a bit different than your average beverage.

Monster Beverage Corp. has stated that it will be changing the labeling on its products so that its energy drinks will no longer be considered dietary supplements. This decision changes the federal guidelines the drinks must follow. The products will now list “Nutrition Facts,” instead of “Supplement Facts” and will now disclose caffeine content for the beverages.

This change is a result of the allegations made against various energy drink manufacturers last year. There have been lawsuits filed against manufacturers regarding both deaths and hospitalizations allegedly related to the consumption of these products. Lawmakers have called on the Food and Drug Administration to look into the safety of the caffeine levels as well as other ingredients included in the drinks. And it also illustrates consumer confusion regarding the labeling of energy drinks because the manufacturers have the option of categorizing them as dietary supplements or regular beverages as they see fit.

Manufacturers have greater freedom with the ingredients that can be included in dietary supplements. A regular beverage can only include ingredients that are approved food additives – those that are “generally recognized as safe. The lawmakers that have asked the FDA for further exploration of the safety of energy drinks have cited issues regarding their ingredients. These products can currently contain ingredients that are not well known. As an example taurine is used in some of Monster’s products. This ingredient is not approved for use in food and beverages and is not included in the database of ingredients “generally recognized as safe.”

The FDA is currently working on new rules for the qualifications of a beverage vs. a dietary supplement. It’s important to note that the agency issued guidance in 2009 that specified that dietary supplements were being marketed in such a fashion that they could be perceived as regular beverages. By using terms like “drink,” “juice” or “beverage, consumers could easily become confused by the product.

While there’s a lot left to find out regarding the new labeling for Monster beverages, is happy to see that the voices of consumers (some of them heard through lawsuits against various manufacturers) are being responded to and acknowledged. These beverages have been prove to be risky choices for some in the population who already have existing health problems. Perhaps as Monster makes changes, others will follow suit. We’ll keep an eye out for continuing information on this emerging story.

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