Taurine safety highlighted as usage levels decline

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Energy drinks, Amino acid, Mintel

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has underlined that the amino acid taurine poses no special health risk following Mintel research showing the amount of energy drinks containing the ingredient fell in 2008.

Referring to a recent risk assessment by CRN scientists Drs Andrew Shao and John Hathcock, CRN public affairs director Season Solorio told NutraIngredients-USA.com yesterday: “This risk assessment shows that there is no evidence of harm at doses up to several grams per day. Our assessment has found that there isn’t a toxic dose for taurine.”

The risk assessment covered the amino acids taurine, glutamine and arginine. Writing in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology​, Shoa and John Hathcock, PhD., stated: "The OSL risk assessments indicate that based on the available published human clinical trial data, the evidence for the absence of adverse effects is strong for taurine at supplemental intakes up to three grams per day, glutamine at intakes up to 14 g/d and arginine at intakes up to 20 g/d, and these levels are identified as the respective OSLs for normal healthy adults."

Solorio’s comments follow the recent release of statistics from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), which showed that the number of energy drinks containing taurine fell from 27 percent in 2004 to 21 percent in 2008.

That was despite new energy drink product launches increasing by 110 percent over the four-year period.

Taurine in the headlines

There has been significant media attention surrounding taurine both with the United States and abroad, following recent safety assessments of the ingredient.

Earlier this year, the European Food Safety Authority’s Scientific Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food found no safety issues for taurine or D-glucurono-y-lactone at average daily energy drink consumption of 0.5 cans.

In May last year, France agreed to lift its ban on energy drinks containing taurine, such as Red Bull, although the country still warned consumers to consume drinks containing the ingredient in moderation.

Consumers wary?

Such media attention that places taurine on the consumer radar could be a reason behind the decrease in the ingredient’s use in energy drinks.

However, on the release of its recent data, Mintel said many consumers were not being deterred from consuming such beverages, despite the negative connotations.

“There is a significant market right now for drinks offering a boost of energy​,” said Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel global new products expert.

“Although consumers say they try to eat and drink better, it appears that energy drinks is not a category in which that happens, as they continue to choose options that contain sugar, caffeine and taurine, all of which can have negative effects if consumed in excess.”

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