Thought you were consuming a drink every time you downed a Monster Beverage? Well, you weren't—but soon you will be. Monster Beverage Corp. is changing the labeling on its cans so that its energy drinks will no longer be considered dietary supplements, a move that changes the federal guidelines the drinks must follow. Monster's CEO told industry tracker Beverage Digest that the cans will now list "Nutrition Facts" rather than "Supplement Facts," as well as disclose caffeine content. The change reflects the intensifying scrutiny energy drinks have come under over the past year, with lawmakers calling on the FDA to look into the safety of the caffeine levels and other ingredients used in the drinks.
It also highlights the confusion consumers may encounter when it comes to the labeling of energy drinks, with companies having the discretion to categorize them as either dietary supplements or traditional drinks. While Monster is categorized as a dietary supplement, for example, the No. 2 energy drink Red Bull is categorized as a traditional beverage. Generally speaking, companies have more leeway in the ingredients they can add to dietary supplements. With products considered to be food or drinks, companies can only use ingredients that are approved food additives or that are "generally recognized as safe," says one expert.