First, it was large sodas, trans fats and calorie counts. Now New York's attorney general is turning his attention to energy drinks. The Empire State's top lawman is investigating whether the makers of sugar- and caffeine-laden energy drinks are misleading consumers about the ingredients and health benefits of their products.
Leaders of the multi-billion-dollar energy-drink industry, including PepsiCo, Monster Beverage Corp., and Living Essentials LLC, the makers of the 5-hour Energy drink, were issued subpoenas asking for information about their marketing practices.
Reuters reports that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether the companies oversold the health benefits of the energy drinks while downplaying the role of caffeine. Labels on the energy drinks often don't say how much caffeine is in each can.
The makers of 5-hour Energy market the drink as having the same ingredients as "broccoli, avocados, bananas and apples," and says it contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee but declines to state the specific amount.
Energy drinks are still a tiny portion of the $115 billion beverage market but their share is growing rapidly. NBC News reports that U.S. sales of energy drinks rose 16 percent to $8.9 billion last year and account for 12 percent of the carbonated-soft-drink category.