Energy drink makers under New York Attorney General investigation

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A 5-hour energy boost? New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is skeptical.

New York’s top lawmaker has launched a probe into several companies who make the popular, so-called “energy drinks,” like Monster and 5-Hour Energy.

In July, Schneiderman’s office issued subpoenas to three companies: PepsiCo, which makes AMP drinks, Monster Beverage Corp., which makes the Monster drink and Living Essential, LLC., maker of 5-Hour Energy drink, according to a report Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

The subpoenas specifically seek information about the marketing and advertising of the three companies, according to the Journal. Schneiderman wants to find out if the companies are deceiving consumers with their elaborate claims about the health benefits of their drinks.

Specifically, investigators with the AG’s office want to find out if these drink makers overstated the benefits of some ingredients in their popular beverages, like taurine and ginseng, while deliberately downplaying the role plain old caffeine plays, which is also in the drinks.

Critics of these drinks say that it’s simply everyday caffeine that acts as the active ingredient, and not the fancy ingredients like B-vitamins, taurine and ginseng. The companies claim the add-ins all boost energy for hours, and better than a regular cup of coffee.

Additionally, investigators also want to know if the addition of guarana, another source of caffeine, in some energy drinks, is against the law. Certain laws prohibit adding multiple sources of caffeine in one drink without disclosing the overall amount of caffeine in the beverage.

Schneiderman can file subpoenas against any company that does business in New York State. If the drink makers violated state laws on food and
drugs, they may have to pay fines and penalties, as well as change the way they advertise, according to the report.

Not the first to investigate energy drinks

Schneiderman is not the first to question the extremely popular drinks and their marketing claims.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, in 2009, the Food and Drug Administration said the term “energy drink” isn’t defined by any federal regulations, and described it as an “ill-defined marketing term with widely varying ingredients,” the Journal wrote.

With the probe, Schneiderman joins Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial pushback against big soda makers like PepsiCo.

Bloomberg proposed earlier this year banning the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces in most restaurants, stadiums, movie theaters and fast-food chains. The idea is expected to be approved by the city Board of Health on Sept. 13.


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