Who are energy drinks for?
Energy drinks are functional beverages formulated for people looking for a product that provides additional mental and physical stimulation for a short period of time.
Even though most energy drinks on average contain less caffeine than a similarly sized cup of coffee, energy drink manufacturers do not recommend energy drinks to be consumed by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people who are sensitive to caffeine. This information is included on the label and is consistent with recommendations for the consumption of other caffeinated beverages.
Energy drinks and alcohol
While the balance of evidence, including a recent study from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), does not support a link between energy drinks contributing to the intoxicating effects of alcohol or that energy drinks counteract intoxication, energy drinks are not promoted to be mixed with alcohol. Energy drink labels have a statement indicating that they are not recommended to be mixed with alcohol.
Links to the EFSA opinion plus reports from both Health Canada and the United Kingdom that discuss these findings can be found in the Resource section.
Energy drink safety
Energy drinks are sold in more than 165 countries around the world and are considered safe by the world’s leading health authorities including Health Canada, the US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA), the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA), and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
A recent energy drink assessment conducted by Health Canada concluded that two servings of a typical energy drink per day would not be expected to pose a health risk for the general adult population. A similar conclusion was found for youth aged 12-18, based on an assessment of one to two servings per day.
Commitments in Canada
Most energy drink manufacturers that produce the energy drinks consumed in Canada are members of the Canadian Beverage Association (CBA). These members support a responsible commitment to the manufacturing, marketing and consumption of their products. CBA members voluntarily adhere to the Energy Drink Marketing Code, which outlines that energy drinks are not to be marketed to children, including the marketing or sale of energy drinks in schools between grades K-12.
Energy drink labels contain information to help consumers make an informed decision and meet or exceed all applicable regulatory requirements. Information on energy drink labels includes (in part):
- The amount of caffeine from all sources
- All ingredients
- A Nutrition Facts Panel showing details on the amount of calories and other nutrients within the product
- A statement that energy drinks are not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people who are sensitive to caffeine, or to be mixed with alcohol.
- Maximum servings per day
- Enhanced allergen labelling
- Energy drinks are required to have a High caffeine content statement on the label
Energy drink manufacturers must provide Health Canada with data regarding consumption of these products by Canadians, and demonstrate consumer understanding of the product labelling. They must also provide Health Canada with annual reports regarding any consumption incidents that are reported which may be related to the product.
Caffeine in energy drinks
Energy drinks (250 ml) contain 80-100mg of caffeine; a similar sized filter drip coffee (250 ml) contains twice as much caffeine averaging 179 mg.
Unlike other caffeinated beverages, Health Canada has limited the amount of caffeine from all sources allowed in an energy drink. Small single serve energy drinks (250 ml or less) will have a maximum of 100 mg of caffeine and larger single-serve cans are limited to 180 mg of caffeine.
According to Health Canada, 93% of the caffeine consumed by Canadians comes from tea and coffee.
To put that in perspective:
If you look at a typical 8 oz/ 250 ml serving, Canadians get:
- 30 mg of caffeine from a cola
- 80 mg of caffeine from an average energy drink
- 85 mg of caffeine from a Café Mocha
- 179 mg of caffeine from a filter drip coffee
Links to research can be found in the Resource section.