Health Canada said in a statement that the proposed regulations were intended to prevent overconsumption of caffeine and other ingredients such as vitamins, and to help parents monitor the caffeine intake of their children and teenagers. The agency said that it would work with industry over the next six months to coordinate the transition, and products should meet the new standards within the next 18 to 24 months.
Currently under Natural Health Product regulations, energy drinks are not required to carry nutrition facts tables. The proposed change would require most energy drinks to be labeled with nutrition information, including the amount of caffeine in the product, and to identify groups for whom high levels of caffeine are not recommended, such as children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
“The growth of energy drink consumption in recent years has resulted in higher levels of caffeine consumption among younger people than has previously been the case,” Health Canada said. “…Canadians tend to think of and consume energy drinks not as health products but as soft drinks. Health Canada's proposals will assess the safety of these products according to how they are consumed to provide the best protection for Canadian consumers.”
The proposed measures would also limit the amount of caffeine in energy drinks to 180mg per serving – about the amount in an average cup of coffee. They would require manufacturers to ensure that types and levels of vitamins are within safe limits, and to add a warning advising not to mix the product with alcohol.
As with all other foods, energy drink makers would be required to label the products with ingredient, nutrition and allergen information.
Health Canada said that the classification change would also bring Canadian regulation of energy drinks in line with how they are regulated in other countries, including in the US and Europe. Inspections would be carried out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Energy shots would not be included under the reclassification. Health Canada said that their format allows them to be easily distinguished from foods, and that they are “clearly in a dosage form.”
Health Canada is accepting comments on the proposed regulatory changes until November 15. Details of how to submit comments are available here.