Partner Glenn Pogust Weighs in on the Legal Implications of Labeling Caffeine “Organic” in Food Manufacturing

July 15, 2013

Food Manufacturing, in collaboration with The Associated Press, reports that despite the Food and Drug Administration’s investigation into the safety of caffeinated products, energy drink sales continue to rise. Part of the recent growth spurt can be contributed to manufacturers promoting new beverages that contain natural caffeine and organic ingredients, which many consumers may believe are healthier and safer than mainstream energy drinks.

However, according to Kaye Scholer Product Liability Partner Glenn Pogust, putting the word “organic” on an energy drink’s label does not free the product from legal scrutiny. “The controversy regarding energy drinks is not related to the source of their ingredients… but to the large amounts of caffeine added to the other ingredients, its effect at such high levels, and the marketing of these products to children and teenagers,” he says.“As a result, adding caffeine derived from an ‘organic’ source… would likely not make them any ‘safer’ than those drinks [under scrutiny], or reduce the risk of litigation.”

Energy drinks are subject to different mandatory labeling requirements “depending on whether they are marketed as ‘beverages’ or ‘dietary supplements,’” says Pogust, though he also notes that promoting organic energy drinks as healthy and helpful could lead to increased litigation. “In fact, any claim to that effect or that implies that ‘organic’ caffeine in quantities as large as the quantities used in other energy drinks makes them ‘safer’ may lead to a basis for false advertising claims,” he says.

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