Did you know? Energy drinks in Australia are strongly regulated and must comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Did you know? Energy drinks are a popular non-alcoholic caffeinated beverage in Australia. Learn the facts around what's in the product, and how to safely consume it.
Did you know? Energy drinks can contain no more than 80mg of caffeine per 250ml, that's the same as a 250ml cup of instant coffee.
Did you know? To inform consumers energy drinks have maximum recommended daily consumption statements on their labels.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Energy Drink?
An energy drink is a popular non-alcoholic drink that includes caffeine and may contain other ingredients such as taurine and B vitamins, ginseng and guarana.
In Australia, a 250ml can of an energy drink contains 80mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in a 250mL cup of instant coffee.
Energy drinks are popular around the world and can be found in more than 165 countries.
How Much Caffeine Does an Energy Drink Contain?
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is strictly regulated by the Australian Government. Energy drinks can have no more than 32mg of caffeine per 100mL.
This means the majority of energy drinks contain the same, or lower levels of caffeine as a cup of instant coffee, and less than half the levels found in a standard espresso.
For example, a standard 250mL energy drink has 80mg of caffeine, and a standard cappuccino contains an average of 160mg of caffeine.
Can I Drink Too Many Energy Drinks?
Just like coffee, there’s a limit to what people should consume and this varies from person to person. As with any food or beverage, the key to a healthy consumption level is all about moderation.
All energy drinks in Australia have a label that recommends a maximum energy drink intake of 2 x 250mL or 1 x 500mL. In terms of caffeine, this equates to a recommended amount of 160mg of caffeine per day from energy drinks.
How are Energy Drinks in Australia Regulated?
The Australian energy drink market is one of the most regulated in the world.
Energy drinks are regulated by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
The Food Standards Code regulates what ingredients can be added to the product, how much caffeine can be included (max 80mg per 250ml), in addition to what advisory statements need to go on the label, such as the daily maximum amount, not being suitable for children, pregnant and lactating women and those sensitive to caffeine. Labelling of energy drinks in Australia is at the forefront of caffeine containing products.
How do Consumers Know What’s in Energy Drinks?
Every energy drink sold in Australia must include a list of ingredients on the can or bottle. The labels include nutritional information panels which highlight the amount of caffeine, vitamins and other ingredients that are found in energy drinks.
What is Taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally found in the human body, as well as in common food items such as seafood and poultry.
Are Energy Drinks Suitable for Children?
Energy drinks are not recommended for children and this is clearly stated on the label.
Although energy drinks contain around the same amount of caffeine as an instant coffee, caffeine is not an ingredient that is advised for children.
What's in an energy drink
All of the ingredients used in energy drinks are approved for use in Australia by FSANZ. This includes:
Caffeine is an ingredient contained within foods, such as chocolate, coffee and tea that have been consumed by people for hundreds of years. At low doses (up to 200mg per day), some people may notice positive effects ranging from increased energy, alertness, motivation and concentration.
Taurine is an amino acid that is found naturally in the human body, as well as in common food items such as seafood and poultry.
Inositol is a carbohydrate, which is also found in the human body, produced from glucose. Inositol is also contained in a range of natural foodstuffs.
Glucuronolactone is a derivative of sugar that occurs naturally in the body, where it is produced in the liver through the metabolism of glucose.
B vitamins are found naturally in the foods we eat such as seafood, seeds and meat. They help the body convert carbohydrates to energy. Any excess of these water-soluble nutrients (B6, B12, niacin, B5) is flushed out of the body.
Ginseng has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and has reputed benefits such as increased energy, anti-fatigue properties, stress relief and memory retention.
Guarana comes from a plant found in Brazil and is a constituent found in some energy drinks. It helps combat fatigue and headaches, and can contribute to weight loss and mental performance.
Like most beverages, energy drinks also contain water.
Some energy drinks contain sugar. Sugar provides energy that our brain and body need to function.
Energy drinks also come in low- and no-sugar varieties for consumers who are conscious of their kilojoule intake. The most common NSS used in energy drinks are sucralose, Acesulfame-K and most recently steviol glycosides. All of these sweeteners have been tested and are confirmed as safe by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Who are Energy Drinks For?
Although energy drinks contain only as much caffeine as an instant coffee, energy drink manufacturers do not recommend they be consumed by children.
Who are Energy Drinks For?
Energy drinks are functional beverages designed for busy and active people who need a boost to get through their busy day.
Even though energy drinks contain only as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, energy drink manufactures do not recommend that energy drinks be consumed by children and include this message on their labels.
Similarly, energy drink labels advise that they are not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, or people who are sensitive to caffeine.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol
Many findings have indicated that mixing energy drinks and moderate amounts of alcohol has no adverse effects and that energy drinks do not mask the feeling of being drunk.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol
Energy drink manufacturers do not promote the mixing of energy drinks with any other beverage on their labels. In addition, energy drink regulations provide recommendations for maximum daily intake of energy drinks, regardless of whether it has been mixed with any other beverage(s). This information is clearly stated on the label on the bottle or can, for consumer safety. The impact of caffeine and alcohol has been the subject of numerous peer reviewed scientific studies. Many findings have indicated that mixing energy drinks and moderate amounts of alcohol has no adverse effects and that energy drinks do not mask the feeling of being drunk.
According to FSANZ, there is no evidence to suggest energy consumption improves reaction time, concentration, or motor control. For this reason, energy drinks, or other caffeinated beverages should not be consumed to remedy intoxication.
Alcohol and Energy Drinks Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre research
To better understand any potential for harm when young people drink alcohol and energy drinks together, NSW Health commissioned independent research.
This was a major research consortium led by the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre Victoria, involving numerous universities, field research and surveys.
In December 2013 a 200 page report concluded that there was insufficient evidence to guide government intervention regarding energy drinks and alcohol. In addition, the report notes that “No evidence exists for the effectiveness of policies implemented to reduce access to Alcohol and Energy Drinks, such as the Western Australian restrictions” (which restrict the mixing of alcohol and energy drinks after midnight in some bars and hotels).
In May 2015, the European Food Safety Authority — The European Union’s leading food regulator — released its landmark opinion on caffeine. It supported the work of the NSW Government and said:
“Alcohol consumption at doses up to about 0.65g/kg bw, leading to a blood alcohol content of about 0.08% [In Australia the drink driving blood alcohol content limit is 0.05%] would not affect the safety of single doses of caffeine up to 200mg. Up to these levels of intake, caffeine is unlikely to mask the subjective perception of alcohol intoxication.”
For a copy of the NSW report and for more information on the science regarding energy drinks and alcohol check out the resources page.
Energy Drinks Safety
Energy drinks are regulated under Standard 2.6.4 (Formulated Caffeinated Beverages) of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Energy Drinks Safety
Energy drinks are safe. The Australian energy drinks market is the most regulated in the world. All ingredients used in energy drinks are approved for use by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
When it comes to consuming energy drinks, it’s all about moderation. Australian energy drink manufacturers include a daily maximum usage of 500mls on their labels. This can be 2 x 250mL cans or 1 x 500mL can (or bottle equivalent).
The vitamins and micro-nutrients in energy drinks, such as B12, B6 or niacin are commonly found in many foods, such as meat, poultry, cereals, eggs, cheese, green and leafy vegetables, nuts and fruits, amongst many others.
B vitamins have been known to contribute to the metabolism of carbohydrates, reducing fatigue and tiredness. Some, like pantothenic acid, contribute to mental performance.
In addition, in 2009 the European Food Safety Authority concluded that both Taurine and D-glucurono-lactone posed no risk to human health.
Energy Drink Regulation
Energy drinks are an approved category, so they are legally considered “food” and must comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The Food Standards Code has specific rules for permitted ingredients and labelling.
Energy drinks have their own special food standard within the Food Standards Code, Food Standard 2.6.4 — Formulated Caffeinated Beverages. The standard requires that energy drinks contain no more than 32mg of caffeine per 100mL and are clearly labelled with advisory statements. Labelling of energy drinks are at the forefront of consumer information with regards to other caffeine containing products and Australia’s labelling is some of the strictest in the world.
Other caffeinated beverages, like espresso coffee from a cafe, or instant coffee, are not regulated by Food Standard 2.6.4.
The Food Standards Code is legally binding. Compliance with the Food Standards Code is mandatory for all energy drink manufacturers and if they breach the code, they may be fined or prosecuted by the government enforcement agency.
Energy Drink Industry Commitments
The energy drinks industry supports a responsible commitment to the manufacture, marketing and consumption of its products. These commitments include:
- Energy drinks are not made available in primary nor secondary schools.
- Marketing and advertising activities of energy drinks are not directed at children.
- No promotional activities are undertaken that encourage excessive consumption of energy drinks.
- Labels of energy drinks do not promote the mixing of energy drinks with any other beverage.
Caffeine in Energy Drinks
Caffeine is an ingredient in many beverages and has been consumed for hundreds of years. At low doses, positive associations such as increased energy, alertness, and concentration have been observed.
Caffeine in Energy Drinks
Caffeine is an ingredient in many beverages, and has been consumed by people for hundreds of years. At low doses (20-200mg), people may experience positive effects such as increased energy, alertness, motivation and concentration.
By law, energy drinks must contain no more than 32mg of caffeine per 100mL. In practice, this means a standard 250mL can of energy drink has no more than 80mg which is equivalent to a 250mL cup of instant coffee.
Energy drinks are not recommended for children and this advice is clearly labelled on every energy drink. Similarly, energy drinks are labelled with advice that these products are not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, or people who are sensitive to caffeine. Labelling of energy drinks are at the forefront of consumer information with regards to other caffeine containing products and Australia’s labelling is some of the strictest in the world.
Food item Caffeine content Espresso 145 mg caffeine per 50 mL cup Formulated Caffeinated Beverages or ‘Energy’ Drinks 80 mg/250 mL can Instant coffee (1 teaspoon/cup) 80 mg/250 mL cup Black Tea 50 mg/220 mL cup Cola 36.4 mg/375 mL can Milk Chocolate 10 mg/50g bar
Reference: FSANZ, http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine.aspx
Caffeine Consumption in Australia
Australians are renowned for their love of coffee and, as such, caffeine is also widely consumed in coffee, tea, and cola beverages. The main source of caffeine consumption in Australia is from coffee with Australians consuming over 5 billion cups of coffee per year.
The consumer group CHOICE recently reported that: there has been a 65% increase in the amount of coffee consumed by Australians in the past 10 years; and a 250ml cappucino or long black contains 253mg and 217mg of caffeine respectively. This compares with a 250ml energy drink that contains 80mg of caffeine.
Both males and females over the age of 30 consumed more caffeine than younger age groups on average, with an approximate daily intake of 150 mg and more than 170 mg for age groups 31-50 and 51-70 years. This equates to about four cups of black tea, or one and a half espresso shots of coffee or almost 1.5 energy drinks (Source: ABS).
In May 2015, the European Food Safety Authority released its landmark opinion on caffeine. It concluded that:
- Daily caffeine intakes from all sources up to 400 mg per day do not raise safety concerns for adults in the general population — that’s five 250ml energy drinks; and
- Single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg — that’s more than two 250ml energy drinks — are unlikely to induce clinically relevant changes in blood pressure, myocardial blood flow, hydration status or body temperature.
More information about energy drinks can be found on this website and at the following list of resources.
More information about energy drinks can be found on this website, and at the resources listed below
European Food Safety Authority Scientific Opinion on Caffeine — Lay summary
Food Standards Code Standard 2.6.4 which regulates energy drinks — Link
FSANZ Guidance on Caffeine — Link
FSANZ report on the safety of caffeine — Link
EFSA Guidance on Taurine and Glucuronolactone — Link
For more information on caffeine, see the Australian Beverages Council’s website Link
JC Verster, S Benson, A Scholey. Motives for mixing alcohol with energy drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages, and consequences for overall alcohol consumption. International Journal of General Medicine 2014:7 285-293.
JC Verster, C Aufricht, C Alford. Energy drinks mixed with alcohol: misconceptions, myths and facts. International Journal of General Medicine 2012:5 187-198.
de Haan L, de Haan HA, Olivier B, Verster JC, Effects of consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks versus consuming alcohol only on overall alcohol consumption and negative alcohol-related consequences, International Journal of General Medicine, 2012: 5 953-960.
Chris Alford, Jurgen Konig, Christoph Aufricht, Joris C Verster, Proceedings of the 2010 Energy Drinks Symposium, Austrian Food Testing Institute Energy Drinks Symposium, Vienna, 12 October 2010
Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment “COT Statement on the interaction of caffeine and alcohol and their combined effects”