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PRIME, the dual influencer-backed energy drink which has earned youthful viral popularity is facing continued scrutiny from lawmakers and health experts over its potentially dangerous levels of caffeine.
On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate PRIME, founded by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI.
The popular brand has become something of an obsession among the influencers’ massive young follower base.
“One of the summer’s hottest status symbols for kids is not an outfit, or a toy—it’s a beverage,” said Schumer, a Democrat from New York. “But buyer and parents beware because it’s a serious health concern for the kids it so feverishly targets.”
ABC News reports PRIME was an immediate sensation when it launched last year, prompting long lines in grocery stores and reports of school yard resale markets.
Advertising itself as zero sugar and vegan, the neon-colored cans are among a growing number of energy drinks with elevated levels of caffeine; in PRIME’s case, 200 milligrams per 12 ounces, equivalent to about half a dozen Coke cans or nearly two Red Bulls.
That high content prompted bans from some schools in the United Kingdom and Australia where some pediatricians warned of possible health impacts on young children such as heart problems, anxiety, and digestive issues, according to ABC News.
Company representatives, meanwhile, have defended the product as clearly labeled “not recommended for children under 18.”
There are two kinds of Prime drinks: Hydration in a bottle (no caffeine) and Energy in a can which is the controversial one.
But in his letter to the FDA, Schumer claimed there was little noticeable difference in the online marketing of the two drinks – leading many parents to believe they were purchasing a juice for their kids, only to wind up with a “cauldron of caffeine.”
“A simple search on social media for Prime will generate an eye-popping amount of sponsored content, which is advertising,” he wrote. “This content and the claims made should be investigated, along with the ingredients and the caffeine content in the Prime energy drink.”
Kellie Westercamp is a registered licensed dietician. She said the extreme caffeine can be addictive and cause insomnia, depression, irregular heart rates, and high blood pressure.
“Would you let your children drink this?” WJAX’s Ben Becker asked Westercamp. “No. Absolutely not.”
“Energy drink companies do not have to have FDA approval,” Westercamp said.
She explained that it’s because energy drinks are considered “dietary supplements” which means drink manufacturers can sidestep regulations like caffeine limits, while sports drinks like Prime Hydration similar to Gatorade are categorized as “food” and have stricter regulation.
No comment has been offered by PRIME in response to Sen. Schumer as of yet.
KSI & Logan say on PRIME’s website, “We created PRIME to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners to fill the void where great taste meets function. We dropped our first product, PRIME Hydration in 2022 and since then, we’ve continued to work countless hours to expand in retailers, reach new markets and formulate new products we know you’ll love. We’ve been humbled by the process of creating a real brand & surpassing some of the biggest beverage companies in the world. As underdogs, we always cherish the opportunity to show the world what’s possible. Now that we’re both fighting for the same team, we truly believe the sky is the limit.”