Hauppauge, NY—Thanks to Suffolk County lawmakers, popular energy drinks, like Red Bull and Monster, may no longer be easy for Long Island teens to get their hands on. Three bills were approved on March 19, and are now awaiting County Executive Steve Bellone to sign them into law. They included prohibiting the sale of energy drinks to minors at parks and beaches; stopping the mailing of energy drinks coupons and samples to minors; and initiating a public awareness campaign about the possible health effects of energy drinks.
The proposals come on the heels of several emergency room visits by teens that consumed energy drinks. At a public hearing, cardiologist Sean Levchuck, M.D., of St. Francis Hospital spoke of one such case, in which a 13-year-old boy was admitted into his care after complaining of a racing heart.
“As I walked out, he said, ‘Oh yeah, by the way doc, I forgot to tell you—I had a can of Amp an hour before I got to the emergency room,’” he stated, according to CBS New York Local News.
Amp, also known as Amp Energy, is a brand created by PepsiCo. One serving of Amp (8.4-fluid-onces, with two servings per can) contains 74 mg of caffeine; for comparison, a brewed 16-oz cup of brewed coffee contains 170 mg, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). Children should have less than 100 mg per day, AMA believes; a full can of Amp has about 148 mg of caffeine.
Several members of the energy drink industry chided Suffolk County for taking such an extreme stance against the beverages. Lobbyist Matthew Vishnick spoke out about the controversy to CBS: “Cotton candy—which is pure sugar, or white death: hot dogs, with all of the nitrates, sodium and fat, are more detrimental to the consumer than energy drinks.”
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2013 (online 4/2/13)