There have been a lot of accounts in the news lately regarding Energy drinks, especially their effect on children and youths. Some of these stories are quite devastating in nature and raise the concern over the potential need for regulation of these drinks and supplements.
Before 2011, caffeinated energy drinks were sold to consumers as Natural Health Products, not foods. Natural Health Products have different regulations and are not controlled or enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The Canadian government wanted to move all these beverages into food status in order to be regulated by CFIA. In order to do this, special allowances needed to be made, including the use of Temporary Market Authorizations (TMAs). To be marketed as a food, a product must meet certain requirements in regards to caffeine level, vitamin and mineral fortification, novel ingredients, and health claims. Since they were previously under NHP status, Health Canada has granted TMAs to some caffeinated energy drinks, provided they had no immediate safety concerns. As current regulation stands, any caffeinated energy drink in Canada must first apply for a TMA, and if approved, they can be on the market as a food. Certain requirements must still be met, such as no advertising to children and certain “warning” statements on the label regarding caffeine content.
The Canadian Paediatric Society released a statement in September 2017 describing their position on sports and energy drinks for children and adolescents. The caffeine found in energy drinks, combined with sugar- either natural or artificial- is appealing to younger people because of its sweet taste and immediate energy boost. There are many adverse health effects reported from the consumption of caffeinated energy drinks including increased blood pressure, impulsive behavior, vomiting and agitation. Studies have also shown that children are more likely to develop a caffeine dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms when not consumed.
As of right now, a person of any age can buy and consume an energy drink. Going forward, Health Canada may enforce more strict rules on the sale of these drinks, such as a ban on selling to children. There have been several government suggestions to consider not selling caffeinated energy drinks to individuals under the age of majority at all. The rules on advertising to children may not be enough, according to some, and having strict rules around the sale of these products could help avoid caffeine dependencies, adverse effects and even worse, injury or death as we have recently seen in the news due to misunderstanding and over indulgence.
If you need assistance bringing an energy drink or energy supplement to the Canadian market, don’t hesitate to give us a call!