Your energy drinks will now pack a double dose of caffeine. According to the new standards as directed by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the caffeine content in an energy drink has been increased from 145 parts per million (ppm) to 320 ppm.
The FSSAI has increased the caffeine limits by almost 175 ppm as compared to the previous permissible limits. Initially, caffeine limits for carbonated beverages were capped at 200 ppm. In 2009 owing to the Centre for Science and Environment — a public interest research organisation — the limit was scaled down to 145 ppm.
However, the increase as declared by the FSSAI is still unknown to several officials and only came to light when representatives from Red Bull showed officials from the Thane Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a letter highlighting the rise as their energy drinks worth crores of rupees had been seized for exceeding the caffeine limits.
“The company representatives approached us with an official letter from FSSAI, which showed that the permissible limits had been raised to 320 ppm. Hence, we released their seized material, which we had taken in considering the old limit,” said Kishore Gore, FDA officer from the Thane division.
According to Red Bull India: “Red Bull Energy Drink fully complies with the local laws and regulations of more than 164 countries, including India. A 250ml can of Red Bull contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee [80 mg or 320ppm]. The Indian health authorities have repeatedly confirmed that Red Bull Energy Drink conforms to Indian laws and regulations.”
However, Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner food, Greater Mumbai said that he had refused to release the seized drinks, as they hadn’t received any official confirmation from FSSAI, Delhi. “The company approached us stating the permissible limit for caffeine has increased from 145 ppm to 320 ppm. But, we haven’t received any confirmation. We have also asked the company to send us the letter so that we can verify it,” said Deshmukh.
Not ‘pumped’ up
The increase in caffeine levels in these drinks has left a bitter taste in the mouths of few. Prerna Shah, a resident of Juhu, said, “Permitting 320 ppm is not a good idea. Companies are already flouting norms and this will allow them to do so even more. The government should not permit this, as youngsters are already addicted to this. A further rise will be detrimental to their health.”
Echoing the same sentiments, Hemang Mitra, a bar consultant, said, “Energy drinks are heavily marketed to young adults. It is as good as selling drugs like cocaine. Many of these drinks are heavily promoted in bars to use with alcohol. There are a number of scientific reports on the adverse consequences of excessive consumption of caffeine.”
Did you know?
Countries like Denmark, Uruguay and Turkey have banned energy drinks altogether while Sweden has banned its sale among children. The European Food Safety Authority mandates that energy drinks with over 150 ppm caffeine content should be labelled as ones with “high caffeine content” and the exact amount should be indicated. Australia has banned energy drinks with over 320 ppm caffeine level and proposes to classify them as pharmaceutical products.
Not ‘energy drinks’
In June, responding to health concerns, the FSSAI had said that all energy drinks having high caffeine limits would be called caffeinated drinks instead of energy drinks. It also said that these drinks would come with a statutory safety warning.
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