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For years, Living Essentials, the maker and distributor of those little red bottles containing shots of 5-Hour Energy drinks, has been claiming that its product helps consumers avoid feeling like they have crashed, after its energy-enhancing effects wear off. Then in 2007, it added a footnote to its advertising claims, asserting that what it really meant was that it caused no sugar crash. But for a consumer group that checks advertisements for veracity, that little footnote is not quite sufficient to make the claim true.

The National Advertising Division, which is affiliated with the Better Business Bureau, conducted its review of energy drinks in 2007 too. In that review, it suggested that 5-Hour Energy needed to remove the “no crash” claim, because many users experienced a sense of letdown when the caffeine in the drink—its main ingredient—worked through their systems. It also acknowledged that the crash experienced by 5-Hour Energy consumers was somewhat less than that suffered by people who drank Red Bull and other energy drinks that also were loaded with sugar.

For Living Essentials, that acknowledgment meant it had a good reason to keep claiming “no crash,” as long as the focus was on the lack of sugar-related energy decreases. That is, users cannot experience a sugar crash, because 5-Hour Energy does not contain any sugar. In turn, the company even began citing the National Advertising Division’s study as support for its marketing assertions.

In so doing, it may have raised the red flag even higher on the industry. The National Advertising Division has reissued its request that 5-Hour Energy drop the “no crash” claim and threatened to take the matter to the Federal Trade Commission if it is not satisfied. In the meantime, the Food and Drug Administration has indicated its intentions to take a closer look at the energy drink market, with regard to both its claims and its safety.

Source: Barry Meier, “Energy Shot’s ‘No Crash’ Claim Is Disputed by Watchdog,” The New York Times, January 2, 2013

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