New Delhi: Advertised as 'powerhouses of energy' to 'giving you wings', Energy Drinks are now under the scanner for having abnormally high levels of caffeine, much more than prescribed by the government.
With people complaining of stress, anxiety and exhaustion, energy drinks claim to offer the perfect drug and are more popular with the youth today, than ever before.
This is an alarming trend that might end with trips to the emergency room. The Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) has tested eight popular brands of energy drinks, including Red Bull, Cloud 9 and XXX.
High levels of caffeine were found in 44 per cent of the samples tested. Nearly half of the brands tested breached the permitted caffeine limit set by the government and one in four drinks, did not even mention the caffeine content on the label.
In simpler terms, one can of an energy drink can contain caffeine equal to three cups of coffee.
CSE Scientist Chandrabhushan said, "Brands like Red Bull and Burn which is a Coca Cola product, the caffeine content is close to 300ml/litre which is double the current standard of caffeine in carbonated beverage."
He also said that the labeling was a major problem. "In fact a number of these drinks don't even mention that they contain caffeine and the quantity of caffeine mentioned on the label was different than what we found in the lab study," Chandrabhushan said.
The health side effects of these drinks cannot be debated and that is precisely why the manufacturers play it safe with the fine print - 'Not meant for children or pregnant lady'.
Chief Dietician of Hinduja Hospital Sneha Hoonjan said, "These have no nutrients in them and caffeine is a psycho stimulant."
But the Red Bull manufacturers refute the study. In a statement issued, the company said, "Red Bull Energy Drink contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, 80mg. This is the same in the 160 countries across the world where our product is on sale. The health authorities of these countries, including India, have concluded that Red Bull is safe to consume."
Marketed as a cool drink for teenagers, many tend to confuse them with sports drinks, which are higher in nutrients and rehydrate and replenish the body after a workout.