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   Friday, February 22, 2019
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Energy drinks contain high caffeine: CSE study


The Centre for Science and Environment’s Pollution Monitoring Lab recently carried out a test on leading ‘energy’ drink brands like Red Bull and Cloud 9 and to everyone’s shock found high levels of caffeine in 44 per cent of the samples. The amount of caffeine found in the samples tested by CSE violate the safe limit of 145 parts per million (ppm) of caffeine prescribed by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954.

These drinks claim to have major health benefits but instead would harm the body of consumers, mainly the youngsters. The drinks also flaunt to help increase alertness of the mind and improve concentration, stamina and athletic performance, but in reality the high caffeine content can lead to severe health impacts. An excess of caffeine content in these drinks can lead to complications like hypokalemia (low potassium levels), hallucinations, increased intracranial pressure, cerebral edema, stroke, paralysis, rhabdomyolysis (muscle fibers in blood), altered consciousness, rigidity, seizures, arrhythmias, or could even be fatal.

After the caffeine test done on these energy drinks, the inference drawn is:

  • 38 per cent of the samples breached the limit mentioned on the label.
  • 25 per cent did not mention the caffeine content on the label.
  • 44 per cent breached the caffeine limit of 145 ppm.

According to CSE, these drinks are often confused with sports drink and are consumed in excess by athletes or people engaged in physical training, eventually causing health hazards. The energy drinks are taken to rehydrate the body but unknown to people, if these drinks are taken in access could leave body dehydrated leading to other complications.

The study also claimed that caffeine is a psycho-stimulant and it could be doing irreparable harm to the body, which could lead to seizures, strokes or even death.

Currently, the caffeine content in these drinks is unregulated. Ignoring public health concerns, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex food safety regulatory body in the country, is considering a norm of 320 ppm, while the government has set 145 ppm as the safe limit for carbonated beverages.

As per an amendment in Rule 37-A(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, ‘energy’ drinks were to follow the caffeine cap of 145 ppm, as is applicable to carbonated beverages.

However, this was contested in the Madras High Court by Red Bull; the court put a stay order on the amendment. 'Energy' drink manufacturers like Red Bull want 320 ppm of caffeine to be allowed as the limit in these drinks -- more than double the limit allowed on carbonated beverages.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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