Energy drinks consumed to increase stamina do more harm to health than good and can lead to addiction to alcohol, a study released by NGO Centre for Science and Environment said.
The CSE had tested two samples each of eight popular energy brands sold in India and found 44 % of the samples breached the safety limit of 145 particles per million (ppm) of caffeine prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
Caffeine is a psycho-stimulant and can lead to seizure, strokes and even death.
"These drinks are touted to have major health benefits but could be doing irreparable harm instead, mainly to the young ones," the CSE said in a statement on Monday. Other sources of caffeine are tea and coffee.
The energy drink industry is worth 250 crore in India and is estimated to be growing at a rate of 20% per annum. Most of the energy drinks are consumed with alcohol in India, which the study says causes dependence on alcohol.
Red Bull, one of the biggest manufacturers of energy drinks in India, however, refused to comment on the study. The company had, however, got a stay on Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's 2009 notification of prescribing 145 ppm as safety limit of caffeine for propriety drinks.
The authority is now working on new standard of 320 ppm of caffeine for drinks having caffeine, CSE said. Some
In absence of proper standards, the CSE found that 25% of the samples did not mention the caffeine content on the label. And, 38% of the samples tested breached the caffeine limit mentioned on the label. This indicated that lack of standards is not helping the consumers in taking a proper decision before buying energy drinks.
Chandra Bhushan, associate director of CSE said: "What's more worrying is that these so called 'energy' drinks are being confused with sports drinks – this is how they are marketed and projected. But studies show that these drinks are not made to re-hydrate and replenish the body. In fact, consumed during intense physical activity, they can lead to dehydration."