Prime Energy a ‘Serious Health Concern’ For Kids, Senator Says

Schumer asks FDA to look into caffeine level in beverage, though other brands contain more
All cans of Prime Energy drinks flavors available in the USA.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is asking the Food and Drug Administration to investigate Prime Energy over its potentially dangerous caffeine levels.

“One of the summer’s hottest status symbols for kids is not an outfit, or a toy, it’s a beverage,” Schumer said in a statement of the Senate Democrats website, which includes his letter to the FDA. “But buyer and parents beware because it’s a serious health concern for the kids it so feverishly targets.”

“Prime is so new that most parents haven’t a clue about it, but it is born from the reels of social media and the enigmatic world of influencers,” he said. “This product has one true target market: children under the age of 18, and that is why I am sounding the alarm and asking the FDA to investigate Prime.”

Prime Energy has 200 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce can, compared with 300 milligrams in Bang, 200 in C4, 200 in Ghost, 180 in Mtn Dew Rise, 160 in Monster, 300 in Reign, 80 in Red Bull, 160 in Rockstar and 160 in Zoa, according to Cheat Day Design.

A 14-ounce (medium) Dunkin’ has 210 milligrams of caffeine (or 180 milligrams in 12 ounces), while a 16-ounce (grande) Starbucks Dark Roast has 260 (or 195 milligrams in 12 ounces), according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. A can of Coke has 32 milligrams of caffeine.

Prime was founded by the YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI and “has become something of an obsession among the influencers’ legions of young followers,” according to an Associated Press report. “Prime was an immediate sensation when it launched last year, prompting long lines in grocery stores and reports of schoolyard resale markets.”

Prime advertising notes it is zero sugar and vegan, and the neon-colored cans are among a growing number of energy drinks with elevated levels of caffeine, AP said.

“That high content prompted bans from some schools in the United Kingdom and Australia where some pediatricians warned of possible health effects on young children such as heart problems, anxiety and digestive issues,” AP reported.

On Monday, the FDA said it is reviewing Schumer’s letter and would respond directly to him, AP said. A Prime representative told AP their beverage has a warning label that it is “not recommended for children under 18” and has a comparable level of caffeine to other competitors.

“As a brand, our top priority is consumer safety, so we welcome discussions with the FDA or any other organization regarding suggested industry changes they feel are necessary in order to protect consumers,” spokesperson Alyx Sealy said.

Sealy told AP that the Prime Hydration sports drink contains no caffeine. Schumer, however, in his letter to the FDA, “claimed there was little noticeable difference in the online marketing of the two drinks, leading many parents to believe they were purchasing a juice for their kids, only to wind up with a ‘cauldron of caffeine’.”

“A simple search on social media for Prime will generate an eye-popping amount of sponsored content, which is advertising,” he said. “This content and the claims made should be investigated, along with the ingredients and the caffeine content in the Prime energy drink.”

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