Canada puts limits on caffeine in energy drinks

by Eric Schroeder
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OTTAWA — Health Canada, the federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, on Oct. 6 unveiled new measures that will restrict the amount of caffeine allowed in energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster Energy. The government also said it would require labels stating the caffeine levels, and it has changed the classification of energy drinks to “foods” from “natural health products.”

As a food, energy drinks now must contain a Nutrition Facts Panel on every can, something that was not required when the drinks were classified as natural health products.

“As a parent, I need to have access to as much information as possible, to help us as a family make good decisions when it comes to what we eat and drink,” said Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Health Minister in Canada. “I believe today’s changes will be especially helpful to the parents of teenagers who regularly consume energy drinks.”

Under the new measures, Heath Canada would also require:

• Limit the amount of caffeine that may be included in an energy drink to 180 mg in a single serving (equivalent to approximately what may be found in a medium coffee);
• In addition to current labels that identify groups for whom high levels of caffeine are not recommended (children, pregnant/breastfeeding women), labels would indicate the levels of caffeine in the product;
• Ingredient, nutrition and allergen declaration, as with all other foods;
• Ensure that types and levels of vitamins and minerals are within safe levels; and
• Warning statement advising not to mix with alcohol.

Additionally, energy drink makers will be required to submit to Health Canada more detailed information on consumption and sales of energy drinks. The information then will be used to help the department monitor if additional safety requirements are needed.

Health Canada said it will work with industry over the next six months to coordinate the transition, and it is expected that products would meet the new requirements within the next 18 to 24 months.

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