Canada Changes Energy Drink Regulations

energy drink shelf - via cbc.caHappy Thanksgiving Weekend, Canadian readers!  From my twitter feed a few days ago, I provided a link on regulation changes for energy drinks; what I didn’t do was elaborate on what those changes were and how it affects the category.  A quick summary on the changes that will be implemented in the next 1-2 years:

  • caffeine in an energy drink limited to 100 mg per 250 ml serving, with a maximum amount of 180 mg for any single serving of 591 mL or less
  • provide warnings that energy drinks should not be mixed with alcohol and are not recommended for children, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and individuals sensitive to caffeine
  • re-classified as food products (currently a natural health product) therefore must list out ingredient contents and ensure that vitamins and minerals are within safe levels

This pretty much puts energy drinks in the same atmosphere as alcohol and cigarettes, where there are warning labels and limitations on the ingredient levels.

The interesting fact is that most of the major energy drink manufacturers like Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar already have their caffeine content within the new guidelines (Red Bull – 80mg/250ml, Monster and Rockstar – 160mg/473ml).  There are a few beverages that surpass the new limit and will have to be re-formulated to meet the standards (Monster Import, Jones Whoopass, and Nos energy drinks according to the Vancouver Sun’s energy drink article – link here).  So the main changes that apply would really only affect their packaging when they have to list out the ingredients and provide a warning label to not mix with alcohol content.

Will these changes drastically affect sales?  In my opinion, not really.  Despite some health lobbyists saying that these drinks target youths which should not be taking in such high caffeine levels, there really is not expectation on the retailer’s part to supervise the sale of energy drinks – only the manufacturer and purchase are held accountable here.  And since the manufacturers will be adjusting their products to the new regulations, they have upheld their end of responsibility.  The purchaser – be it someone that is 15, 21, or 27 – can still freely purchase the beverage without being asked for identification (like alcohol and cigarettes) or seeing a pharmacist (like prescribed drugs or medication).  Without these limitations, the energy drinks will still be available on all store shelves, putting the purchase decision responsibility with the shopper.  At the end of the day, energy drinks will still be purchased and consumed at the same rate now as before the regulations.

 The new regulations are slated to be phased in over the next two years, so there may be time for much stronger regulations to be implemented as well.  Do you think the Canadian health advisory board has gone far enough with the changes, or would you like to see some more changes to be made?

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