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Study Finds Energy Drink Caffeine Levels Differ from Labels

October 25, 2012 — An investigation from Consumer Reports has examined the actual caffeine content in 27 of the most popular brands of energy drinks in the United States. The researchers found that the majority of the products contained a different amount of caffeine than was on the label, or did not list the amount of caffeine at all.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require energy drink companies to list the proper amount of caffeine on ingredient labels because the products are regulated as “dietary supplements” instead of food.

The Consumer Report team began their investigation by purchasing three lots of 27 different products from stores throughout Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. The caffeine content ranged from 6 milligrams to 246 milligrams per serving, with some products having multiple servings. The lowest caffeine-content was 5-Hour Energy Decaf. The highest was 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength.

Of the 27 products, 11 did not include the amount of caffeine on the label. The remaining 16 products did specify the amount of caffeine, but investigators found that this was not always accurate — 5 products had an average of 20% higher actual caffeine content than what was on the label. These products included Arizona Energy, Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel, Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy, Venom Energy, and Nestle Jamba. Another product, Archer Farms Energy Drink Juice, had 70% less caffeine than what was listed on the ingredient label.

The results of the investigation are coming at a time of heightened scrutiny over the caffeine content in energy drinks. Last week, the family of a 14 year-old girl who died after consuming two Monster energy drinks filed an energy drink lawsuit against the company. The girl had an underlying heart valve disorder that was exacerbated by caffeine toxicity, according to the autopsy report.

Earlier this week, the FDA reported that caffeinated energy drinks have been associated with at least five deaths.

Consumer Reports asked Monster Beverage officials to comment on why they don’t list the amount of caffeine on their product label. An official said, “There is no legal or commercial business requirement to do so. And because our products are completely safe, and the actual numbers are not meaningful to most consumers.”

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