Press Release

Minister welcomes Report on Stimulant Drinks

The Minister of State for Food Safety and Older People, Dr Tom Moffatt TD has today (21 March 2001) welcomed the publication of the Report on the Health Effects of Stimulant Drinks by the Food Safety Promotion Board (FSPB).

“In light of the fact that serious concerns had been expressed about ´energy´ drinks, I felt it was important that their safety be evaluated on a national level. I therefore requested the Food Safety Promotion Board (FSPB), to commission independent, scientific research into the health effects of these stimulant ´energy´ drinks,” said the Minister.

´High energy drinks´ consist of a mixture in water, of carbohydrates (e.g. sucrose and glucose) and substances like taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine, guarana, inositol and vitamins and should be distinguished from sports or isotonic drinks. The latter were originally developed for use by university sports teams and are used on the premise that the loss of volume and compositional changes that occurred in body fluids during vigorous exercise could be prevented or ameliorated by the consumption of a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink.

In 1999 the European Scientific Committee for Food stated that the scientific data was not available to answer all questions about the safety of these ´energy´ drinks under all circumstances of usage.

The FSPB established a committee of scientific experts under the chairmanship of Professor Seán Strain of the University of Ulster at Coleraine. In preparation of its report, the Stimulant Drink Committee:-

  • undertook a review of the current research and levels of knowledge pertaining to the health effects of ´energy´ drinks and their ingredients;
  • commissioned a review of the marketing strategies used in the sale of stimulant drinks on the island of Ireland;
  • established the consumption levels and patterns of intake of stimulant drinks of 11 to 35 year olds within the population; and
  • examined the legislative position, both throughout the EU and internationally, in relation to the sale and distribution of stimulant drinks.

The Stimulant Drinks Committee report makes the following recommendations:-

  • stimulant drinks should be labelled with an indication that they are unsuitable for children (under 16 years of age), pregnant women and individuals sensitive to caffeine;
  • the consumption of stimulant drinks by children under 16 years should be discouraged;
  • caution should be exercised in the consumption of stimulant drinks with alcohol;
  • they should not be consumed in association with sport and exercise as a thirst quencher; and
  • they are unsuitable rehydration agents for use in sport and during exercise.

The Report will now be considered by the Minister of State and his officials and will also be forwarded to the European Commission for presentation at a forthcoming meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

“I would like to thank the members of the Stimulant Drink Committee for their work on this report which, I believe, will prove to be a valuable contribution to the on-going international research into the health effects of stimulant drinks,” said the Minister.