Will Chicago ban energy drinks?

A powerful politician is seeking to outlaw supersized, highly caffeinated energy drinks in the Windy City.

As emergency rooms fill with energy drink guzzlers and the sales of those drinks skyrocket, one Chicago politician wants to put a stop to it all.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Alderman Ed Burke — the city's most powerful Council member — proposed a law Thursday that would ban the sale and distribution of highly caffeinated beverages to all consumers, not just minors.

Burke, in his proposal, cited an increase in emergency room visits for teenagers and young adults who consume energy drinks and also the rising popularity of those beverages.

His ordinance states, “No person shall sell, give away, barter, exchange or otherwise furnish any energy drink," defined as “a canned or bottled beverage which contains an amount of caffeine exceeding or equal to 180 milligrams-per-container and containing Taurine or Guarana.” Violators would face a fine ranging from $100 to $500 for each offense, and businesses that sell banned products could have their licenses suspended or revoked.

Loopholes do exist, however, and the proposed measure wouldn't abolish the sale of all energy drinks. One of Red Bull's top-selling items, its 8.4-ounce can containing 80 milligrams of caffeine, would still be legal to dispense and consume under Burke's ordinance.  Likewise, Monster Energy — the drink that allegedly led to the death of a 14-year-old Phoenix girl last year — would remain on shelves. Its 16-ounce can just makes the cut at 160 milligrams of caffeine.  Monster said it believes its products are not responsible for the girl's death.

What, then, does Burke's law actually ban? The bill blocks larger-sized, highlypotent energy drinks from being sold, like Monster Energy's 24-ounce, 240-milligram "Mega Monster"; 5 Hour Energy's "Extra Strength" edition, which contains 207 milligrams of caffeine; Full Throttle's 16-ounce, 200-milligram can.

Burke and other politicians across the country are targeting the energy drink industry for what they say is misleading labeling. He says companies label the dangerous drinks as dietary supplements to avoid federal regulation.

Another Chicago politician, Health Committee Chairman George Cardenas, from the city's 12th district, proposed last month that minors be banned from purchasing energy drinks, though he says his intention was to raise awareness and education, not to enact an actual law.

"You start with that premise because it brings more attention to the problem. It’s a more serious conversation. If we just hold hearings, people won’t take it seriously,” Cardenas told the Chicago Sun-Times on the day he introduced the ordinance.

Cardenas says he has no further intentions to push for a ban, and is surprised Burke has chosen to do so.

“I’m not for banning anything. We need to educate the public and educate parents more than anything and work with the industry for better warnings and labeling on these products. We’re gonna modify it. We’re not gonna push a ban,” Cardenas said.

This week, according to the AP, a new government survey revealed that the number of people seeking emergency attention after consuming energy drinks has doubled in the past four years. Most of these cases, the report says, involve minors and young adults.

Investigators spoke with doctors who said that they've seen an increase in patients suffering from anxiety, heart attacks and irregular heartbeats after drinking energy products.

During the past fall, the AP reports that 18 deaths had possible ties to energy drinks.

"A lot of people don't realize the strength of these things. I had someone come in recently who had drunk three energy drinks in an hour, which is the equivalent of 15 cups of coffee," Howard Mell, an emergency physician who serves as a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, told the AP.

Mired in controversy, energy drink makers continue to see booming profits. In 2011, according to Beverage Digest, sales volume rose 17 percent for that industry, with the top three companies — Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star — enjoying double-digit gains.

In response to the survey, the energy drink industry said its products are safe and that there is no definitive link between energy drinks and adverse reactions. One energy drink association called the report's methods into question.

"This report does not share information about the overall health of those who may have consumed energy drinks, or what symptoms brought them to the ER in the first place," the American Beverage Association said in a statement. "There is no basis by which to understand the overall caffeine intake of any of these individuals — from all sources."

Source: MSN Now

MSN News on Facebook and Twitter

Stay up to date on breaking news and current events.

Friend us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/news.msn

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msnnews