Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumethal (D-Conn.) have responded to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) letter concerning actions the agency plans to take on energy drinks. While the senators “were pleased to learn that the FDA intends to release final guidance distinguishing liquid dietary supplements from beverages,” they contend that FDA’s response to their earlier request “did not address one of our greatest concerns, which include the potential interactions and cumulative effects of additives with stimulant properties in energy drinks with high levels of caffeine. While ginseng and other additives were not mentioned, your letter reviews taurine and guarana, which are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) food additives when used to add flavor.”

The senators seek an explanation about the use of these ingredients to provide a stimulating effect and their safety when used this way. They also seek information about the agency’s consideration of “the unique health risks associated with consuming high levels of caffeine among young people.” While FDA cited a report noting that most caffeine consumption in the United States comes from caffeine naturally present in coffee and tea, FDA did not provide an “assessment of the shifting consumption patterns among young people, who are major energy drink consumers.” The letter concludes by urging FDA “to assert its authority to regulate the level of caffeine in energy drinks marketed as beverages.”