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They promise to give you more energy or to improve your mood, but a debate has opened over the safety of increasingly popular energy drinks like Red Bull and Rockstar. The Food and Drug Administration, which has some serious questions about the products, has ordered a hearing for Dec. 5, according to an ABC News report.
Sales for these so-called functional foods are expected to hit $50 billion a year in the next four years, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. The drinks are partly a response from the food industry, which faces competition from products that include herbal and vitamin supplements. However, questions arise as to just how safe the drinks are.
For six years, critics have asked for more regulation of the functional-food industry, with Bruce Silverglade at the Center for Science and the Public Interest calling some of these items nothing more than "21st century quackery," the report said.
"Snake oil salesman wrapped up in a modern package," Silverglade told ABC News.
Rockstar's ingredients include taurine, caffeine and something called milk thistle. Its makers state on the can that the drink is "scientifically formulated to speed recovery time," but in small print says those statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
A dietitian from the International Food Information Council, which is funded by the agriculture industry, said drink cautiously. "Moderation, I think, really is the key here," Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak told ABC News. "Any one of these products by themselves isn't likely going to cause a safety concern."
But it "could potentially have some negative side effects," she added.