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July 10, 2023

Logan Paul's Prime energy drink is facing scrutiny – how much caffeine is safe for kids to consume?

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer has asked the FDA to investigate the brand's marketing practices, alleging it targets youth

Children's Health Caffeine
Prime Energy Caffeine Ron Adar/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Prime, the energy drink backed by YouTube personality Logan Paul, has come under fire for its high caffeine content and marketing practices. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer has asked the FDA to investigate the brand's advertising, alleging it targets youth.

Prime, an energy drink backed by YouTub personality Logan Paul and rapper KSI, has gained popularity among children and teens since it hit retail markets last year. But it has come under the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers and health experts for its high caffeine levels.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, of New York, wrote a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Sunday, asking officials to investigate Prime Energy's caffeine content and ingredients. He also urged the FDA to look into the brand's advertising practices, saying there is little difference in the online marketing of Prime and its caffeine-free counterpart, Prime Hydration, the Associated Press reported.

"One of the summer's hottest status symbols for kids is not an outfit, or a toy — it's a beverage," Schumer told ABC News. "But buyers and parents beware because it's a serious health concern for the kids it so feverishly targets. A simple search on social media for Prime will generate an eye-popping amount of sponsored content, which is advertising. This content and the claims made should be investigated, along with the ingredients and the caffeine content in the Prime energy drink." 

Paul and KSI began promoting the drink in early 2022. The energy drink, which comes in six fruity flavors, contains 200 mg of caffeine per each 12-ounce can, the equivalent of about six cans of Coca-Cola or two Red Bulls. It does not contain sugar, but has sucralose, a sugar alternative that has been linked to damaged DNA and increased cancer risk. 

Some U.S. schools have banned the energy drink because it contains caffeine levels considered unsafe for people under age 18, Parents reported. Children ages 12-18 should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, according to the Academy of American Pediatrics. 

On its website's FAQ, Prime notes that it is not suitable for people under 18, pregnant women, people who are breastfeeding and people who are sensitive to caffeine. 

The FDA did not immediately comment on Schumer's request for an investigation. Prime did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the U.S. It is most commonly found in coffee, chocolate, tea, soda and energy drinks. It can make people feel more energetic and alert, producing similar effects in children and adults, according to Nemours Kid's Health

How much caffeine is safe?

Adults can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, but the use of caffeine is "not a good idea" for kids, according to Mayo Clinic

"Caffeine-containing foods and beverages can have effects on the body and mind that interfere with every aspect of what children need to thrive," Dr. David Buchholz, a pediatrician at Columbia University's Irving Medical Center, said in 2022. "There is no safe amount of caffeine for anyone age 11 and younger. Kids are smaller than adults and it takes much less caffeine to cause adverse effects on their bodies." 

In May, an elementary school in the United Kingdom issued a warning to parents after a child had a "cardiac episode" and needed their stomach pumped after drinking a can of Prime, BirminghamLive reported. 

The AAP recommends water as the primary source of hydration for children and discourages teens from consuming caffeinated beverages. Still, between 30% and 50% of teens report consuming energy drinks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

When caffeine intake exceeds a normal amount, it may lead to side effects like headaches, anxiety, trouble sleeping, irritability, increased heart rate, increased thirst, chest pains and frequent urination, according to the FDA

The CDC notes that energy drinks can have harmful effects on the nervous system, noting that there were 1,499 adolescents hospitalized for emergencies related to energy drink consumption in 2011. Consuming energy drinks regularly, even for adults, can cause dehydration, heart complications, anxiety and insomnia.

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