Reading food labels is a good habit. The individual characteristics of the human body affect the result of food consumption in general and its individual ingredients.
In addition, there are food categories, such as caffeinated foods, that require control over the amount consumed. Gennady Kuznetsov , head of the board of the League of Food Producers , explains what energy drinks contain and why they should not cause concern among consumers.
Head of the Board of the League of Food Producers
What the label should look like
In 2019, the Law of Ukraine 2639-VIII ” On information for consumers regarding food products” came into force , which regulates the type and content of labels. Labels must be in Ukrainian. The text should be clear and understandable, placed so that nothing interferes with reading. The list of ingredients should be almost complete and should be in descending order of mass fraction ( or content in%) in the product: that is , the more ingredients should be at the beginning of the list.
The label must indicate the presence of GMOs, expiration date, storage conditions, actual ethyl alcohol content ( if more than 1.2%), nutritional value ( proteins, fats, carbohydrates and calories). It is also necessary to warn about the high content of caffeine. The label must necessarily contain the contacts of persons to whom questions can be addressed and who are legally responsible for the accuracy of the information provided to the consumer.
In most of the developed countries of the world, legislation regulates the labeling requirements for beverages with a caffeine content exceeding 150 milligrams per liter. They must have a label on the packaging warning of the high caffeine content. In Ukraine, the application of such inscriptions on the labels of energy drinks was initiated by the energy producers themselves back in 2012 and set an example of business responsibility to the consumer for other industries.
The Consumer Information Law adopted in 2019 established the requirement to warn consumers about the high content of caffeine in drinks and about the inappropriateness of their consumption by pregnant women and women during lactation ( which is fully consistent with the norms of the European Union Regulation No. 1169 of 2011).
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it’s important to stick to the RDA when consuming caffeinated beverages.
Studies in the 2000s showed that the maximum concentration of caffeine in the blood is reached approximately half an hour after ingestion and is rapidly excreted from the body. Sometimes caffeine is ” accused” of the fact that the increased diuresis that occurs during its use can cause dehydration and kidney problems, but scientists have shown that after 3-5 days addiction is developed and the body returns to normal.
In 2009 and 2015, at the initiative of the European Commission, the European Food Safety Agency ( EFSA) conducted scientific studies and published findings on the safety of components in soft energy drinks. The report states : “Regular consumption of caffeine up to 400 mg per day does not raise safety concerns for non-pregnant adults. Single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg ( about 3 mg / kg body weight for a 70 kg adult) do not pose a safety concern. For pregnant women and the fetus, regular consumption of caffeine up to 200 mg per day is not a concern. Single doses of caffeine and regular consumption of caffeine up to 200 mg in breastfeeding women do not raise safety concerns for breastfed babies. ” Due to the lack of clinical data on children and adolescents, they were equated with pregnant women: they can also no more than 3 mg of caffeine per 1 kg of body weight per day.
How much is it in the volumes of caffeinated drinks we are used to? 100 g of espresso contains 212 mg of caffeine, 100 g of black tea – 20 mg, 100 g of cola – 8 mg, 100 g of energy drinks – 30 mg ( in a regular 250 ml can of caffeine, an average of 80 mg is obtained). But, unfortunately, only on the labels of energy drinks there is information warning about reasonable doses of consumption. And this despite the fact that according to marketing research, the average consumption of non-alcoholic energy drinks per capita in Ukraine is ten times less than the amount of tea, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks! It would be prudent for all manufacturers of caffeine-containing products to provide information on caffeine consumption rates when labeling their products in cases of high caffeine content.
Other ingredients of energy drinks
Unwarranted concerns about other non-alcoholic energy drink ingredients and their compatibility with caffeine were completely dispelled in a 2015 report by the EFSA Committee on Diet, Nutrition and Allergies, which states that energy drink ingredients are at typical concentrations ( about 300-320, 4000 and 2400 mg / L of caffeine, taurine and D-glucuronyl-γ-lactone, respectively) do not affect health when single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg are taken.
Let’s take a closer look at the common ingredients for the production of energy drinks.
Many energy drinks contain taurine, an amino acid found in humans and many animals. Taurine is related to many physiological functions, including neuromodulation, cell membrane stability, and modulation of intracellular calcium levels.
Guaranine is obtained from the South American plant guarana. 1 g of guaranine is equivalent to about 40 mg of caffeine; the caffeine obtained from guarana is excreted from the body more slowly, which leads to a longer stimulating effect. Guaranine has also been linked to improved fat metabolism.
Ginseng, ginkgo, mate.
The plant of Asian traditional medicine, ginseng, is considered an immunomodulator, a stimulant of physical endurance and resistance to stress. Chinese ginkgo extract and paraguayan mate are also stimulants and helpers in the fight against fatigue.
It is an amino acid primarily produced by the liver and kidneys to support metabolism. Levocarnitine plays an important role in preventing cell damage and contributing to recovery from exercise stress.
Glucuronolactone is synthesized by the human liver and acts as a structural component of almost all connective tissue. Useful properties: reduces drowsiness, increases mental endurance and reaction speed.
These vitamins in energy drinks are needed to help the body convert all the sugar in the drink into energy.
These components of energy drinks are of natural origin, just like caffeine. However, not everything natural is harmless in large doses, and therefore the experts of the social initiative ” Live Rozumno ” for more than 5 years have been taking care of raising the awareness of Ukrainians about the norms and rules for consuming caffeinated beverages and the composition of energy drinks, making recommendations solely on scientifically based information. In order to draw additional attention to the need to adhere to the recommended consumption of caffeine, one of the largest Ukrainian producers places a sign “ Live it Rozumno” on every package of energy drinks . Of course, this is a vivid example of business responsibility to the consumer.