New York, N.Y. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent the following letter to FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf, regarding Prime Energy drink – a product marketed to kids and teens to quench thirst – which contains an eye-popping 200mg of caffeine. The Senator warns that Prime is in demand because it’s become a social media influence ‘status symbol’ that kids are desperate to copy.
Revealing that one of the summer’s most in-demand drinks for kids—PRIME—is actually a cauldron of caffeine, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate PRIME and its energy drink for claims, marketing and eye-popping caffeine content.
Schumer detailed how PRIME has more caffeine content than a cup of coffee, a can of Coca Cola, even a Red Bull. Schumer said that at 200mg for 12 ounces, PRIME could endanger the health of kids this summer as its demand skyrockets. Schumer explained, the drink has become a kid status symbol on social media and that the company website lacks warnings and other information to help parents. Schumer detailed what the FDA can do as he listed what an investigation should include.
“One of the summer’s hottest status symbols for kids is not an outfit, or a toy—it’s a beverage—but buyer and parents beware because it’s a serious health concern for the kids it so feverishly targets,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “PRIME is so new that most parents haven’t a clue about it, but it is born from the reels of social media and the enigmatic world of influencers. Kids see it on their phones or as they scroll, and they actually need it and the problem here is that this product has so much caffeine in it that it puts Red Bull to shame, but unlike Red Bull, this product has one true target market: children under the age of 18, and that is why I am sounding the alarm and asking the FDA to investigate PRIME.”
According to ABC, the drink, first released in the U.K. in 2022, has gone from just another variety beverage to a status symbol with its much-hyped marketing on TikTok. With flavors like tropical punch and strawberry watermelon, the company has been touted on TikTok videos saying it is "the fastest growing sports drink in history." Other videos show influencers looking at a group of kids rapidly approaching a branded Prime drink bus. The drink comes in energy and hydration forms and has become wildly popular with kids, according to ABC. The bottled hydration version has no caffeine, but claims to be a ‘sports’ drink, while the canned energy version, which contains off-the-charts levels of caffeine, has raised serious concerns.
Schumer said a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola contains 34 milligrams of caffeine and an 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull has 80 milligrams. A 12-ounce can of Prime energy, by contrast, contains 200 milligrams of caffeine.
“This is eye-popping levels of caffeine for a child’s body,” added Schumer. “And because the product is billed as a hydration and sports drink in its other near-identical form, kids are likely to ingest cans of this stuff with parents unaware—and that’s a recipe for disaster.”
According to medical experts, “In children, caffeine can raise blood pressure and interfere with sleep. It can make children less aware of being tired. It can affect their moods and make anxiety worse. They can even suffer headaches from caffeine withdrawal.”
Medical experts add that “as more and more teens trade soda for energy drinks, they have become a focal point of caffeine consumption. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states that kids should not consume energy drinks and rarely need sports drinks. “Energy drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain, and should never be consumed by children or adolescents,” according to the AAP. Schumer said labels should be standard and truthful and that PRIME is huckstering its products in a gray area that the FDA must investigate.
Schumer’s letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf appears below.
Dear Commissioner Califf,
I write today amid publicized concern by both parents and pediatricians as it relates to a relatively new beverage brand called “PRIME.” The brand, which comes in ‘hydration’ and ‘energy’ forms is ubiquitously available and was launched as a social media, influencer-type product that has the undivided attention of children under the age of eighteen. These same children are also the target market for Prime. Many physicians have serious concern for Prime, and I write to specifically urge your agency to investigate Prime for its claims, marketing and caffeine content.
For example, as reported by ABC News, a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola contains 34 milligrams of caffeine and an 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull has 80 milligrams. A 12-ounce can of Prime energy, by contrast, contains 200 milligrams of caffeine. Physicians across the country, and a Columbia pediatrician I stood with here in New York to warn parents about this in-demand drink, say 200 milligrams is a huge amount of caffeine that can have an adverse impact on the health of children.
An FDA investigation should consider the following:
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. The company reports that their drink “was developed to fill the void where great taste meets function.” The website features insufficient warnings about caffeine content, despite the eye-popping amount. Again, I urge your agency to investigate Prime for its overall claims, its marketing and the caffeine content, and to seriously consider Prime’s target market of children as part of any investigation.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator