TORONTO -- Canada's federal health department has issued new regulations that will limit the amount of caffeine allowed in energy drinks.
Caffeine will be capped at 180mg. in a single-serving can or bottle, about as much as an 8-fl.oz. cup of coffee. Larger, resealable containers will be limited to 400mg. of caffeine per liter.
Many leading energy drinks will not be impacted by the new restrictions issued by Health Canada, including Red Bull, which has 80mg. of caffeine in an 8.4-fl.oz. can. That's less than a cup of coffee but more than twice the content of most colas.
The regulations also require that energy drinks have labels that clearly list the amounts of caffeine, vitamins and other ingredients. The drinks will also be required to carry a warning that they are not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women and should not be mixed with alcohol.
Additionally, energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar, which were previously categorized as "natural health products," are now being reclassified as "food," thus coming under the new caffeine cap. And for the next five years, energy drink makers must report annual data on sales, consumption and health incidents.
Energy drink manufacturers can only produce drinks that meet the new guidelines from this point forward, but retailers don't have to pull noncompliant drinks already in stock.
Popular energy drinks have been associated with the deaths of three teens -- as well as serious side effects such as irregular heartbeat and amnesia in 35 other Canadians -- since 2003, according to reports filed with Health Canada.
In the U.S., federal health authorities are investigating reports citing energy drinks as possibly linked to dozens of deaths, illnesses and hospitalizations. Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin (Illinois) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) are asking the FDA to consider caffeine limits on energy drinks.