UPDATED: Canada Moves Forward with Caffeine Limits for Energy Drinks

January 4, 2013

The Toronto Star says new caffeine limits are official and enforceable.

Health Canada is now officially regulating caffeine levels in energy drinks, according to a report from the Toronto Star. Canada’s public health agency released a proposalfor caffeine limitations in October 2011, followed by official guidance in March 2012. The transition period for companies to reformulate their energy drinks and update their marketing language is over.

Single-serving energy drinks are now restricted to no more than 180 mg of caffeine (100 mg per 250 ml of liquid), a limit that the Toronto Star says forced 28 products to undergo reformulation. Assuming all details of the initial proposal went through, nutrition facts panels are also required of energy drinks, as well as warning labels including “Do not mix with alcohol” and “Not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and individuals sensitive to caffeine.”

Nutritional Outlook is reaching out to Canadian industry experts for word on any differences between Health Canada’s proposal and the final legislation.

UPDATE: Nutritional Outlook has learned from Canadian regulatory specialist Dicentra Inc. (Toronto) that Health Canada intends to grant five-year Temporary Marketing Authorizations (TMAs) to companies marketing caffeinated energy drinks-instead of original plans for two-year TMAs. Dicentra quality and compliance director William Morkel says that Health Canada is considering five-year TMAs to allow related marketers to do business with minimal market disruption. Marketers could also use the extra time to develop data on purchasing habits-as required by TMAs-since Health Canada hasn’t offered much guidance in terms of protocol for collecting relevant data.

Energy shots are controversially absent from the new regulations because they are still regulated as Natural Health Products (NHPs). “I know that a lot of companies in the industry are trying to challenge the NHP directorate because sometimes they’ll have a product line that’s in a shot format and a bigger bottle format, and they don’t want one regulated as a food and one as an NHP,” says Morkel. “They just want to have a standard approach to their product line. But the NHP directorate is being adamant in saying, ‘No. Shots are NHPs, and anything bigger is a food.’”