Now that consumers and government groups are taking a closer look at caffeinated drinks — especially after two major brands, Monster Energy Drinks and 5-Hour Energy, were linked to numerous death reports — two drink makers are making changes to their labels. However, the companies are approaching labeling changes very differently.
First, Monster Beverage Corp. announced that it would change its labels on its energy drinks to include nutrition facts, as well as the caffeine content, the Associated Press reports. That's a big difference, because the energy drinks used to fall under the dietary supplement category; now, with the changes to the label, the energy drinks will be classified as a beverage. And that means that Monster Beverage Corp. will have to follow the same federal guidelines as other beverages (including the number two energy drink, Red Bull). The newest labeling changes, and the new classification, may change Monstery Energy Drinks' ingredients because of stricter guidelines, but the company's CEO has yet to confirm whether an ingredient (specifically the hot-button ingredient, taurine) will be removed.
In other news, Four Loko — surely you remember the (formerly) caffeinated alcoholic beverage that swept college campuses two years ago — was ordered by the FTC to change its labeling. According to a release from the FTC, Four Loko must include an alcohol facts panel on the drink with information on alcohol content, serving size, and servings per container. The order comes from what the FTC has determined to be a false claim, that "a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko contained the alcohol equivalent of one or two regular 12-ounce beers." Once the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approves the order from the FTC, the maker of Four Loko, Phusion Projects, LLC, has 90 days to use the required new label. "The decision by FTC represents another victory in the fight to ensure consumers are given robust and honest information with which they can make informed consumption decisions,” said the executive director of the National Consumers League, Sally Greenberg, in a release concerning the order.
Correction: The original article suggested that Four Loko is an energy drink; in fact, Four Loko removed caffeine, guarana, or taurine from the drink in 2010.