Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate Prime over its high caffeine content and popularity among children, adding to growing scrutiny for the viral beverage brand since its launch last year by YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul.
Schumer called on the FDA to investigate Prime Energy over its high levels of caffeine and alleged marketing towards children.
A 12 ounce can of the Prime energy drink reportedly contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to roughly six cans of Coke or nearly two Red Bulls.
Schumer said the drinks, which he described as one of the “summer’s hottest status symbols for kids,” are a “serious health concern.
While the company says it only advertises its energy drinks to consumers ages 18 and up and that cans are clearly labeled as “not recommended for children under 18,” Schumer claimed Prime “feverishly targets” children.
He said the company packages and markets its energy drinks “in near identical form” to its caffeine-free sports drinks, leading parents to unwittingly purchase a “cauldron of caffeine” for their children.
Prime did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.
Prime was an instant hit when it was launched by YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul last year. Its limited availability and high demand sparked chaotic scenes and huge lines at stores stocking it and birthed a pricey resale market, even for empty bottles, particularly outside of the U.S. where the drink is harder to source. The drinks are popular among children and have become something of a fashion item or status symbol. Various schools across the U.S., U.K. and Australia have reportedly banned the drinks, according to news reports, with some citing the potential dangers to children for drinks containing such high levels of caffeine. As children are typically smaller than adults, it takes less caffeine to impair functioning than it would for an adult. Excess caffeine can cause issues like anxiety, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure and boost heart rate and can even be fatal in very high doses.
“Who is the main target of PRIME? It’s kids under 18,” Schumer said Sunday, according to CBS. “Kids see it on their phones as they scroll, and then they actually have a need for it,” he said. “And the problem here is that the product has so much caffeine in it that it puts Red Bull to shame.”
48 million. That’s how many followers KSI and Logan Paul collectively have on YouTube. The figure is roughly an even split between the two. Both KSI and Paul also have thriving presences on other platforms like TikTok, where they have 11.5 million and 17.7 million followers, respectively.
Prime drink: How KSI and Logan Paul made it so popular (BBC)
Energy Drinks Are Surging. So Are Their Caffeine Levels. (NYT)