Monster Beverage Co. is changing its labeling so that its energy drinks will no longer be considered dietary supplements, a move that changes the federal guidelines the drinks must follow. Among other things, the drinks will now list “Nutrition Facts” rather than “Supplement Facts” and will disclose caffeine content. As reported by Food Manufacturing,
The change reflects the intensifying scrutiny energy drinks have come under over the past year, with lawmakers calling on the [FDA] to look into the safety of the caffeine levels and other ingredients used in the drinks. It also highlights the confusion consumers may encounter when it comes to the labeling of energy drinks, with companies having the discretion to categorize them as either dietary supplements or traditional drinks.
The No. 2 energy drink, Red Bull, is already categorized as a traditional beverage.
The distinction between a nutritional supplement and a tradition beverage is significant. Traditional foods and drinks can only use ingredients that are approved food additives or that are generally recognized as safe. That is not the case for nutritional supplements, which often contain little-known ingredients such as taurine used in some Monster drinks.
In 2009, the FDA issued guidance stating that dietary supplements were being marketed in ways that suggested they were traditional drinks, including using terms such as “drink”, “juice” and “beverages.” Presently, the FDA is working on final rules to better distinguish distinguish beverage and dietary supplement.