Citizens' Issues
Energy drinks allowed to increase caffeine content to ‘dangerous’ level

Overruling warnings from expert, the FFSAI allowed companies to increase caffeine level in energy drink to 320mg per litre from 145mg per litre. Anyone who drinks 700ml of energy drink is at high risk, warn experts

Yajurvedi Rao, an activist had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) against the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for permitting companies to increase caffeine content in energy drinks to 320mg per litre from 145mg per litre.

Quoting an official from a popular energy drink manufacturer, an article from Mumbai Mirror, says, "We manufacture drinks not to kill people. Rather, one will find more caffeine in coffee than in energy drinks. The complainant has no scientific backing to prove anything."

The part marked in red says, “Consumption of more than two cans in a day may be harmful to your health. Not to be used for pregnant women, breast feeders, children under the age of 16, people with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, allergy to caffeine, and athletes during exercise."
Image Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

However, Dr Arvind Shenoy, senior chemical and consumer product researcher, discards the argument. He said, “It is important to note that if the vehicle of consumption for caffeine is coffee, then, one can tolerate caffeine levels even up to 642 mg per day. The situation becomes completely different when the medium of caffeine intake is an energy drink – where the side-effects start kicking in from levels of even 231 mg per day.”

In short, this means one can tolerate caffeine up 642mg per day from coffee but with energy drink, the concoction becomes dangerous even at a level of 231mg per day. Remember, the FSSAI had allowed the level in energy drink to be increased to 320mg per litre. In other words, anyone who drinks around 700ml of an energy drink is at high risk and may suffer from side effects.

Rao had also filed applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to procure information. As per one such reply received by him, during 2009, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized stocks of Red Bull Energy drink. After testing, the FDA found that the energy drink contained 200mg per litre caffeine, more than the permitted level. After that the judicial magistrate at Alibaug directed the authorities to destroy the stock seized from the energy drink company.

Similarly, in July 2011, the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) had conducted a study on energy drink brands in India, like Red Bull and Cloud 9. The study found that 44% of the samples had caffeine levels higher than the limit of 145 mg per litre back then. The study showed that Red Bull, Coca Cola’s Burn and Monster energy drink had two times more caffeine than Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (PFA)
(Special report and energy report card)

According to Wikipedia.org ,  excessive consumption of energy drinks may induce mild to moderate euphoria primarily caused by stimulant properties of caffeine and may also induce agitation, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. Consumption of a single energy drink will not lead to excessive caffeine intake, but consumption of two or more drinks in a single day can. Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts greater than 400 mg include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), and dyspepsia.

In the US, energy drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits. The drinks may cause seizures due to the "crash" following the energy high that occurs after consumption. Caffeine dosage is not required to be on the product label for food in the United States, unlike drugs, but some advocates are urging the FDA to change this practice, Wikipedia says.

Energy drink manufacturer in India wanted the FSSAI to increase caffeine limit to 320 mg per litre, which they claimed was safe and average for daily consumption. Counter-arguing on this claim, experts warned them against this decision, as the new limit would mean highly excessive amounts of caffeine. Standards for energy drinks clearly mention side effects of caffeine overdose, but the FSSAI still went ahead and increased the caffeine content limit. FSSAI not only failed to take any action against the violators of the PFA, but also issued the new standards in their favour.
(Standards of energy drinks)

After increasing the maximum caffeine limit in energy drinks, FSSAI also laid down new standards, which state that “Energy drinks in India will have to strip off their “energy” tag and instead be renamed as “caffeinated beverages”. Such beverages must also carry a safety warning for consumers stating that such drinks are not recommended for “children, pregnant or lactating women, and persons sensitive to caffeine and sportsperson”, and “no more than two cans per day”.

While FSSAI laid down some generic regulations for energy drink companies, they failed to take into account the side effects this caffeine consumption can have on youth as well as adults alike. In November 2010, the University of Texas Medical School at Houston reported that energy drinks contain more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee, and that the caffeine combined with other ingredients (sometimes not reported correctly on labels) such as guarana, taurine, other herbs, vitamins and minerals may interact.

Dr Shenoy says, “Studies show that 30 milligrams or less of caffeine can alter self-reports of mood and affect behaviour and 100 mg per day can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms upon abstinence. Caffeine withdrawal, or lack of consumption of the daily caffeine limit is equally harmful for people. The potential for caffeine withdrawal to cause clinically significant distress or impairment malfunctioning is reflected by the inclusion of caffeine withdrawal as an official diagnosis in ICD-10 (World Health Organization) and as a proposed diagnosis in DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association).  Although most research on withdrawal has been performed with adults, there is also evidence that children experience withdrawal effects during caffeine abstinence”.

Market research firm Euromonitor calculated that the global energy drink market was worth $3.8 billion in 1999 and this value grew to $27.5 billion in 2013. According to Wikipedia, during 2000 the US energy drink market was worth $350 million and data from the Packaged Facts company shows that the industry grew by 60% between 2008 and 2012 in the US—by 2012 total US sales were over $12.5 Billion. Red Bull and Monster were the two best-selling brands in 2012, accounting for nearly 80% of US energy drink sales, and the energy shot market is worth over $1 billion in 2014.

The energy drink Red Bull did not get market approval in France after the death of an 18-year-old Irish athlete, Ross Cooney, who died within hours after playing a basketball game and consuming four cans of the product. This market approval was challenged in the European Court of Justice in 2004, and consequently lifted. Norway did not allow Red Bull for a time, although this has recently been revoked. The UK investigated the drink, but only issued a warning against its consumption by children and pregnant women.

Considering the widespread sale and popularity of energy drinks such a drastic measure taken by the FSSAI will have a severe negative impact on consumers from India.

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Lok Adalat gaining ground, over 2 lakh cases settled so far

In six Lok Adalats, as many as 2.96 lakh cases were kept for disposal and over two lakh were actually settled

The concept of Maha Lok Adalat has been gaining momentum in Maharashtra with a large number of cases being amicably settled through alternate dispute redressal (ADR) mechanism.

Since 1995-96, over 1.73 lakh cases have been settled in the Maha Lok Adalats. In the five previous Lok Adalats, as many as 2.96 lakh cases were kept for disposal and over 1.73 lakh were actually settled.

In the recent Maha Lok Adalat organised at Nagpur on Saturday 28,839 cases were settled, thereby taking up the tally to 2.02 lakh cases resolved so far.

These include 1.35 lakh pre-litigation cases kept for disposal and 74,102 actually settled cases.

The National Lok Adalat, held only once so far last year, was also a success where 73,841 cases were kept and 57,041 of them were settled.

The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), which co-ordinates the Lok Adalat, claimed that the settlement and success was to the tune of 89%.

Besides, amount of over Rs10.32 crore was also settled including in cheque bouncing and other cases while the court collected a fine of over Rs34.62 lakh in a day long Maha Lok Adalat on 12th April at Nagpur.

Justice ZA Haq of the Bombay High Court stressed upon the necessity of Lok Adalats to reduce the pendency in the judicial system.

He said ADRs serve a good purpose as the litigants are the best judges to understand their disputes and they know the factual position better. We should extend help to them being mediator or conciliator, he added.

The first Lok Adalat was held in 1995-96 in the premises of Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court.

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COMMENTS

Vaibhav Dhoka

4 years ago

Lok Adalats are need of hour but judiciary should also wake up and reduce pendancy and see that orders are timely executed otherwise at present there is no use in getting order but execution is most painstaking procedure where money plays big role.Therefore judiciary should WAKE UP.

Supreme Court recognises transgenders as third gender

The Supreme Court also expressed concern over discrimination, harassment of transgenders in India and directed the government to take remedial measures

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted recognition to transgenders as third category of sex.

The apex court also directed the Centre and states to provide facilities of healthcare and education to transgenders, saying they are a socially backward community.

Transgenders are citizens of the country and have equal rights to education, employment and social acceptability. The third gender people will be considered as other backward classes (OBCs), the apex court said.

The SC said they will be given educational and employment reservation as OBCs.

The apex court has expressed concern over discrimination, harassment of transgenders in the country and directed the government to take remedial measures.

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COMMENTS

Abhijit Gosavi

4 years ago

Wonderful news! They deserve to be treated with dignity and shouldn't have to struggle to survive! They're every bit human as the rest of us!

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