Chicago Energy Drink Ban Discussion Runs Out of Energy

City Council talks about prohibition, restrictions, but takes no action, vote

CHICAGO -- The perceived dangers to children posed by caffeinated energy drinks resulted in much talk but no action Tuesday during a Chicago City Council committee hearing, reported The Chicago Tribune. Alderman Edward Burke has proposed banning drinks with at least 180 milligrams of caffeine that also include taurine, an amino acid or caffeine-bearing guarana.

"But like many an attention-drawing Burke proposal, it led to no vote--only an agreement for further discussion--even as it provided work for well-connected lobbyists, attorneys and consultants," said the report.

Energy drinks are under scrutiny by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and others officials after several lawsuits were filed over deaths allegedly related to energy drink consumption. Meanwhile, energy drink makers and retailers are responding to the allegations.

In regard to lobbying effort, for example, Red Bull hired former alderman Mark Fary; the American Beverage Association hired Victor Reyes, onetime political chief for former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and attorney Michael Kasper, a political ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel; and 7-Eleven Inc. hired Sam Panayotovich, a former state legislator and partner of Cook County assessor Joseph Berrios, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, the report said.

All four have lobbied the mayor's office and aldermen against Burke's proposal, as well as one by Ald. George Cardenas to ban the sale of energy drinks to anyone under age 21, according to city disclosures cited by the newspaper.

Cardenas, who oversaw the hearing as chairman of the Health Committee, said he was disinclined to ban energy drinks but would consider requiring more-detailed labeling so parents are better informed.

"At the end of the day, you want better consumer protection, and that means labeling," Cardenas said, adding that he still hasn't completely ruled out pursuing some type of age-related ban.

Click here to read the full Chicago Tribune report.