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Should LA Take On Energy Drinks?

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Can city workers have too much energy?

That's the question Los Angeles officials are asking when it comes to consumption of energy drinks such as Red Bull or Monster when workers are on the job.

The City Council's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee asked for a report on issue of energy drinks, which are now subject to debate at the federal level. The committee asked whether the city should consider guidelines for employee use of the drinks while working, and whether the city should require signs at retail stores warning of their side effects.

Councilman Bernard Parks called for the studies, citing federal inquiries into the ingredients of the drinks and their alleged connection to five deaths across the nation in recent years.

But, Dr. Arthur Manoukian, the city's medical director, said there has been no clear evidence of any problem with the drinks and there is no way to determine if someone has been consuming them.

"My main problem is I don't see how we can monitor this," Manoukian said. "There are no tests for caffeine use."

Energy drinks contain two to three times the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee or a cola drink, he said.

The main impact seems to be to make the user more alert, he said. The main problem appears to be when the energy drinks are combined with alcohol, he added.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has said it cannot find a connection between the energy drinks and the deaths.

But Parks said there has been some indication the drinks contain much more caffeine than advertised and that there is no limit on how much caffeine is in them.

He also wants a review of the impact of drinks for police officers and firefighters as well as those using heavy equipment.

The committee also asked the county Health Department to conduct its own study of the energy drinks, similar to those performed by the Centers for Disease Control and other research institutions where questions over the drinks were raised.

Lisa Gritzner, who represents the American Beverage Association that includes companies such as Red Bull and Monster, said there has been no hard evidence of any problems associated directly with the drinks.

Also, she said, the U.S. military gives out the drinks to soldiers to improve their alertness while on duty. ___

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