Senate Holds Energy Drink Safety Hearing - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Senate Holds Energy Drink Safety Hearing

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Lawmakers grilled executives from the top energy drink companies -- Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar -- over potential health risks their products pose to children.

"Scientific studies have concluded that consuming large amounts of caffeine can have serious health risks," says Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

But the executives say the drinks are safe - even for those as young as 13 years old.

"We don't believe there are any concerns of our product being drunk by that demographic," says Rodney Sacks, CEO, Monster Beverage Corp.

According to a government report, energy drinks have anywhere from 80 to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine...compared to 100 milligrams of caffeine in a small cup of coffee.

"Caffeine in combination with other stimulant ingredients is what makes these energy drinks of grave concern," says Marcie Beth Schneider of American Academy of Pediatrics.

In 2007, there were about 10,000 emergency room visits related to energy drinks. In 2011, that doubled to more than 20,000. During that period, most of those patients were between 18-39 years old.

Energy drink executives say their ads are not meant to target children. "We have always marketed ourselves as the adult premium product."

"Take a look at that cover. That's a 12-year-old boy on their (magazine) cover. Do you think he appeals to older people?. They are openly, openly advertising to kids and denying it," says Durbin.

But the companies say their own can labels warn energy drinks are not for kids.

The general manager of Red Bull told lawmakers it will not include anyone under 18 years old in any of its ads and will put the total caffeine content on its labels.

Last month, the American Medical Association voted to ban the marketing of energy drinks to kids and teens under 18.

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