Federal Government Announces New Approach to Energy Drinks

October 17, 2021

Ottawa Journal (October 17 – October 21, 2021)
David Tilson, MP

We continue to see more and more energy drinks appearing on the market and they have become increasingly popular. However, there has also been increased concern about the safety of these products for children and teens since it has resulted in higher levels of caffeine consumption among young people than in the past. Our Government is committed to taking action to support Canadian families and to help them have access to as much information as possible, to help make informed decisions when it comes to what their families eat and drink. This is why we recently announced new measures to require energy drinks to provide parents and families with the information they need to make informed choices.

Presently, in Canada, energy drink labels are not clear to consumers on caffeine intake. For example, they do not always display the nutrition facts table. Caffeine can be found in many products that we consume, including: coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and certain medications, as well as energy drinks and so-called energy shots. The level of caffeine found in energy drinks is different in each product, ranging from 50 mg per can to above 200 mg per can, which may exceed the maximum daily intake recommended by Health Canada for most children and teens.

Energy drinks are not recommended for children and teens because of the high levels of caffeine that are found in these products, as well as other ingredients. It’s difficult to link levels of caffeine to specific health effects because each individual may have a different tolerance for this substance; however, Health Canada has established that children are at an increased risk of experiencing behavioural effects from consuming caffeine. Furthermore, Health Canada has received a number of reports of suspected health problems associated with energy drinks. Examples of these problems are irregular heartbeats and nervousness.

The new measures introduced by our Government earlier this month will give Canadian parents and families the tools to make informed decisions about energy drinks. Until now, this type of beverage was classified as a Natural Health Product (NHP) and as a result, wasn’t required to display the nutrition facts table on the product. Following the introduction of these measures, most energy drinks will be classified in legal terms as food, as they are in other countries, such as the United States and Europe. This will mean the nutrition facts table will be on every can and inspection powers will rest with the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The new measures would also require:

  • Limit the amount of caffeine that can be included in an energy drink to 180 mg in a single serving (equivalent to approximately what can be found in a medium coffee);
  • In addition to current labels that identify groups for whom high levels of caffeine are not recommended (children, pregnant/breastfeeding women), labels would indicate the levels of caffeine in the product;
  • Requirements to include ingredient, nutrition, and allergen declaration, as with all other foods;
  • Ensure that types and levels of vitamins and minerals are within safe levels; and
  • Warning statement advising not to mix with alcohol.

The new measures would also require energy drink makers to report any consumer health complaints associated with their products to Health Canada. In addition, they would be required to submit more detailed information on consumption and sales of energy drinks to Health Canada. This would allow the Department to determine if additional safety requirements are needed.

Health Canada will be undertaking to work with the energy drink industry over the next six months to coordinate the transition to the new measures. It’s expected that products would meet the new requirements within the next 18 to 24 months.