NEW YORK (AP) — An influencer-backed energy drink that has achieved viral popularity among children is under scrutiny from lawmakers and health experts for its potentially dangerous caffeine content.
On Sunday, Senator Charles Schumer called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate PRIME, a beverage brand founded by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI that has become something of an obsession among the influencers’ legions of young followers.
“One of the hottest summer status symbols for kids isn’t an outfit or a toy — it’s a drink,” said Schumer, a Democrat from New York. “However, buyers and parents should be wary as it poses a serious health risk to the children it is so feverishly targeting.”
Backed by two of YouTube’s most well-known stars, PRIME immediately caused a stir when it launched last year, sparking long lines at grocery stores and reports of resale markets in schoolyards.
The neon-colored cans, which advertise themselves as sugar-free and vegan, are among a growing list of high-caffeine energy drinks; in the case of PRIME, 200 milligrams per 12 ounces, which is about half a dozen cans of Coke, or nearly two Red Bulls.
This high content led to bans from some schools in the UK and Australia, where some paediatricians warned of possible health effects on young children, such as heart problems, anxiety and digestive problems.
Meanwhile, company officials have defended that the product is clearly labeled as “not recommended for children under the age of 18”. They sell a separate sports drink called PRIME Hydration that has no caffeine at all. PRIME officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But in his letter to the FDA, Schumer claimed there was little significant difference in how the two drinks were marketed online — leading many parents to assume they’d buy a juice for their kids, only to end up with a “kettle full.” caffeine”.
“A simple social media search for Prime will generate a staggering amount of sponsored content, which is advertising,” he wrote. “This content and the claims made should be investigated, as well as the ingredients and caffeine content in the Prime Energy Drink.”