If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…: Energy “shots” should be regulated as energy drinks in Canada

David Hammond, Jessica L. Reid


In 2012, Health Canada transitioned caffeinated energy drinks from Natural Health Product to Food and Drug classification and regulations, implementing temporary guidelines with requirements such as caffeine content limits, mandatory cautionary labelling, and restrictions on health claims. “Energy shots” often contain as much or more caffeine compared to energy drinks and have been associated with a similar number of adverse health events. However, current requirements for energy drinks do not apply to energy shots, which remain classified as “natural health products” on the basis that they are “not consumed or perceived as foods” in the same way as energy drinks. An online survey was conducted with Canadian youth and young adults aged 12–24 years (N = 2040) in October 2014 to examine perceptions of energy shots. Respondents viewed an image of a popular energy shot and were asked which term best described it, with six randomly-ordered options. The vast majority (78.8%) perceived the energy shot as an “energy drink” (vs. “supplement”, “vitamin drink”, “natural health product”, “soft drink” or “food product”). Given consumer perceptions and the similarity in product constituents, there is little basis for regulating energy shots differently from energy drinks; these products should be subject to similar labelling and health warning requirements.


Energy drinks; caffeine; policy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.107.5199