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Consumer Reports: Energy drinks may mislabel caffeine amounts

Many popular energy drinks often mislabel the amount of caffeine in them, if they even label them at all, a new Consumer Reports study claims.

A report published in the December 2012 issue of Consumer Reports tested 27 different top-selling energy drinks and shots for the amount of caffeine in one serving, based on manufacturer's serving size.

Energy drinks have been under scrutiny after the parents of a 14-year-old girl named Anais Fournier sued Monster Beverage Corp. for their daughter's death. Fournier's parents claim the teen drank two Monster Energy Drinks within 24 hours and died from cardiac arrest because of the caffeine content. The girl also had an underlying heart condition that caused weak blood vessels. The Food and Drug administration is also investigating five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack that have supposedly involved Monster Energy Drink.

For the 16 products Consumer Reports tested that did list a specific caffeine amount, five of them -- Arizona Energy, Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel, Nestlé Jamba, Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy, and Venom Energy -- had 20 percent more caffeine in each serving than it said in the label. Archer Farms Energy Drink actually had 70 percent less than the labeled quantity of caffeine. The rest of the drinks tested fell within 20 percent of what the label said, which Consumer Reports considered to be within a normal range.

Eleven of the tested drinks did not specify how much caffeine was in the beverage on labels. The reason may be due to an effort to hide the secret ingredients in their specific blends, said the magazine. However, a representative for Monster Beverage Corp. said that the company does not post caffeine amounts because "there is no legal or commercial business requirement to do so, and also because our products are completely safe, and the actual numbers are not meaningful to most consumers."

It is important to note that the size of the packaging and the serving size is not always the same, and not all serving sizes are identical. This means that a 16-ounce energy drink that has an 8-ounce serving size will actually have twice the amount of caffeine, sugars, calories and other components than is listed on the nutrition label.

Consuming too much caffeine may lead to caffeine intoxication. Dr. Marc Gillinov previously told that drinking 1 gram of caffeine can cause negative effects including irritability, hyper aroused states, abnormal heart beat and cardiac arrest. Taking in 10 grams can lead to death. Doctors usually suggest that people limit their daily caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams to 500 milligrams daily, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends youths should not consume energy drinks.

Consumer Reports' full rankings of caffeine content in 27 energy drinks can be found on its website.

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