Mahadi Hasan Badhon
Despite being hazardous to public health, different brands of energy drinks are widely spreading in the market.
According to experts, such energy drinks are contaminated with hazardous materials which create serious health complexities as well as death risk.
Damage to nerves, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, in addition to type-2 diabetes, brain hemorrhage and mental retardation might also be caused. Public health experts and the food safety authority demand a stop to the import, and removal of these harmful energy drinks quickly from the market. A recent test of the Department of Narcotics Control reveals that most of the energy drinks contain ‘alcohol’ and ‘sildenafil citrate’.
Sildenafil citrate is an element of Viagra and prohibited in Bangladesh.
The tested energy drinks include– Seven Horse Feelings, Gincine, Jahan Masrom Gold, Gincine Plus, Ruchita Feelings, 7X power feelings, Ginter plus Gincine, Double Horse and First King Energy.
A lab report prepared by Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) reveals that energy drinks contain caffeine, Sildenafil Citrate, preservatives and other chemical materials.
In the test, the BSFA found 320 milligrams of caffeine per liter while the approved level was 145 milligram per liter. Meanwhile, the Department of Narcotics Control also tested the energy drinks separately in three laboratories including the Institute of Food and Nutrition Science of the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and Bangladesh Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR).
Apart from this, the most popular energy drink named ‘Red Bull’ mentioned caffeine level at 320 mg per liter whereas BSTI found caffeine 298.77 milligram per liter.

On the other hand, BSTI got caffeine under 145 mg/liter in Tiger, Speed and Power. But Food Safety Authority found 320 mg/liter tested in the laboratory of BUET, BCSIR, IPH and BSTI whereas imported Red Bull had more than 700 mg/liter. Here, a question arises over the test procedure of BSTI.

According to sources, the Royal Tiger Energy Drink of Euroccola is mixed with excessive sodium benzoate. This is a kind of preservative. According to the BSTI standard BDS, sodium benzoate is acceptable up to 160 milligrams per liter.

“Caffeine and other chemical materials are used to increase the taste of soft drinks. Consumption of high amount of caffeine may cause complicated nervousness, scurvy, type-2 diabetes, insomnia, headaches, heart and kidney problem, respiratory problems, and even childbearing complications,” Dr Nahid Sultana, Associate professor of Community Medicine Department of Dhaka National Medical College Institute told Bangladesh Post.

“We always discourage the drinking of energy drinks as they are seriously harmful to health and cause long term health diseases,” said Dr Sultana.

When contacted, public health expert Dr Lelin Chowdhury told Bangladesh Post, “When anyone takes energy drink, it increases heart motion and the heart becomes tired. As a result, it causes various heart disease and raises blood pressure. As soft drinks contain high amount of sugar, they produce fatty cells in the human body as well as cause type-2 diabetes.”

“Apart from this, energy drinks have various chemicals and high levels of sugar; damage important organs like kidney, heart, liver, and lungs, and attack the nervous system. They also injure youthfulness and damage sexual power,” added Dr Lelin.

He also said, sodium benzoate is a type of preservative that destroys beneficial bacteria supporting digestion of human food. This results in digestion problems. At one point, kidney and liver are attacked. Consumption of high sodium benzoate and caffeine is likely to damage the digestive system. In addition to kidney failure and ulcer, pregnant women have the possibility of abortion or giving birth to an autistic child, he also said.

Associate professor of Neuro medicine of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Dr Md Shohidullah told Bangladesh Post, ‘ I am very surprised to know that such kinds of hazardous materials [sildenafil citrate, sodium benzoate and other preservatives] are mixed with energy drinks. Consumption of those energy drinks is obviously seriously harmful for health if preservatives are really mixed with them.

Besides, experts also say, drinking energy drinks increases the risk of heart disease, calcium in the bones decays and possibility of miscarriage increases, in addition to risk of death.

Energy drinks of various brands have spread in the market because buyers, especially youths are more prone to buying energy drinks, while sellers get good profits.

Energy drink sellers in the Fokirapool area told Bangladesh Post, “The highest selling brands are Royal Tiger Energy Drink and Speed. They said, a carton brought in the morning finishes in the afternoon. Energy drinks bring in more profit than other drinks.”

Companies producing and marketing energy drinks take license for carbonated beverages because of monitoring weakness of the controlling authority, and absence of a national standard.

The BSTI committee on Soft Drinks and Beverage Branch has decided after long discussion and experimentation that marketing of all types of soft drinks will be stopped. BFSA also decided to stop production of those energy drinks by issuing letters to the concerned companies within a short time. At the same time, the prohibition of imports of energy drinks like Red Bull will be informed to the trade ministry and customs authority.

BFSA authority said, “There is no problem about names, and companies that have taken beverage licenses, can sell by those names. But they will not go beyond the fixed BDS 1123:2013 carbonated beverage. It cannot be produced in accordance with energy drink.