Energy drinks tackled by Canadian Government and energy drinks hit headlines elsewhere

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th November 2011

The Canadian Government has announced it will reform the way it regulates energy drinks in Canada.

Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages characterised by the addition of ‘energy enhancing’ ingredients. These may include a number of water-soluble B vitamins, amino acids and other substances, and caffeine.

The proposed Canadian legislation includes:

  • A cap on the amount of caffeine that can be included in an energy drink at 180 mg per single serving.
  • In addition to current labels that identify groups for whom high levels of caffeine are not recommended (children, pregnant/breastfeeding women), labels must indicate the levels of caffeine in the product.
  • Product labels are required to include ingredient, nutrition and allergen declaration, as with all other food products in Canada.
  • A requirement for vitamins and minerals to be within safe levels.
  • A warning statement advising consumers not to mix the product with alcohol.

Under the new legislation, Canadian energy drink manufacturers will also be required to report any consumer health complaints associated with their products to the government’s health department. They will also be required to submit more detailed information to the government about the consumption and sales turnover of energy drinks.

Health Canada said it will be working with industry over the next six months to coordinate this transition. It is expected that products would meet the new requirements within the next 18 to 24 months.

Regulatory comparison with Australia

Energy drinks currently are regulated in Australia by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, Standard 2.6.4 as ‘Formulated Caffeinated Beverages’, and can contain up to 320mg/L of caffeine. Product labels must indicate the caffeine content in milligrams and carry a mandatory advisory statement.

In May 2011, Australian and New Zealand Ministers commenced a review of the Policy Guideline on caffeine content in food and beverage products. The review is currently being undertaken by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Australia’s leading Food Law expert Joe Lederman, managing principal of specialist food industry law firm FoodLegal has pointed out that, in comparison to many other overseas jurisdictions, Australia has very strict regulations applying to the addition of caffeine to “food” products. This is partially due to the fact that the Food Standards Code treats caffeine as a food additive. By way of comparison, international food standards as espoused by Codex Alimentarius do not list caffeine as a food additive.

The Formulated Caffeinated Beverages Standard has a number of mandatory advisory statements that must be included on the product’s label in relation to the caffeine and vitamin content of the product. The objective of this Standard is to protect consumers who may be sensitive to caffeine or suffer adverse consequences as a result of over-consumption.

Latest UK survey on energy drinks

Meanwhile, research findings released this week by Mintel, a leading market research company, suggest that almost three-quarters of young people in the UK consume energy drinks on a regular basis.

A survey by Mintel found that, while taste was stated as the primary reason for buying energy drinks by 73 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds in the UK, up to 70 per cent of them choose energy drinks as they provide a general energy boost. 66 per cent specifically indicated the improvement of their performance at work or while studying as a key reason for consuming energy drinks.

Mintel’s Senior Drinks Analyst, Jonny Forsyth said, “Although incomes have been squeezed by the economic downturn, consumers have judged the combination of energy-giving functionality and taste as worth the premium – making energy drinks the success story within the non-alcoholic market over the past three years. The combined markets for energy and sport drinks in the UK are estimated to reach £1.1 billion in 2011, from £920 million back in 2008. Moreover, Mintel forecasts that there will be a massive volume growth (85%) in the next five years meaning that the market will reach an estimated £1.8 billion by 2016.

Energy drinks market entered by Kraft in the U.S.

Energy drinks have also been a hot topic this week following reports that American food and beverage giant Kraft is rolling out a caffeinated version of its MiO “water enhancer” product next month. According to a number of industry reports, Kraft’s new MiO Energy drink product will be sold in an 18-serving bottle containing the caffeine content equivalent of 18 cups of coffee.