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5-Hour Energy ‘misled public’ as to our product safety stance: CSPI

By Ben Bouckley+

11-Dec-2012
Last updated the 11-Dec-2012 at 14:14 GMT

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has hit out at 5-hour Energy, claiming that the brand misled the public as to the body’s stance on the safety of the supplement.

Last Thursday, the CSPI reported that 5-hour Energy had “at least temporarily” stopped running a web-based video advert for its caffeinated supplement, 5m shots of which are sold weekly in the US.

5-hour Energy spokeswoman Elaine Lutz told BeverageDaily.com last night: “The company has temporarily taken the advertisement down while the issues are reviewed.

“We have no further statement on the matter at this time,” she added.

The CSPI objects to the advert because it includes a Time magazine quotation from its executive director Michael Jacobson, answering a question about whether it was possible to die from caffeine.

“It is highly unlikely. Someone would really have to make an effort to consumer 40 or so 200mg caffeine tablets,” he is quoted as saying.

More than just caffeine..

The CSPI said it told 5-hour Energy that using the quote in the advert gave the false impression that Jacobsen or CSPI endorsed the product, which the FDA said last month was the subject of 92 serious adverse event reports (AERs) submitted to the agency, which linked the shot to 13 deaths.

“In fact, CSPI does have concern about 5-hour Energy, which contains far more than just caffeine,” the Center said in a statement.

According to the CSPI, the drink also contains citicoline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine, malic acid, glucuronolactone, natural and artificial flacors, sucralose, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.

“People have been drinking coffee and tea for millennia,” said Jacobson. “[But] people have been consuming 5-hour Energy only since 2004.

“Considering that the FDA is investigating reports of heart attacks, convulsions and deaths associated with the product, we recommend people not to consume 5-hour Energy until the FDA gets to the bottom of the problems.”

Beyond telling the CSPI that its advert was offline, communications director Jeff Cronin told this publication yesterday that the Center had not had not been contacted further by 5-hour Energy.

 “Our hope is that the company leaves CSPI out of future advertising for the product as well. CSPI purposefully does not endorse any products of any kind, and goes to great lengths to safeguard our credibility and our reputation for independence," Cronin said.

Brand faces down health concerns

5-hour Energy is also under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office, while Senator Richard Blumenthal (an active crusader for energy drink regulation) also said the brand’s advert was misleading and should be stopped.

The brand tried to assuage fears in respect of product safety in mid November, by stating that a single energy shot only contained as much coffee as a cup of coffee.

Lutz said that the drink was not marketed for use with alcohol, while the brand did not recommend consuming more than two shot bottles a day, allowing intervals of several hours.

“Consumers who have caffeine sensitivities should consult with a physician before taking, and can consider the ‘decaf’ version,” she added.

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