Ald. Burke Seeks Citywide Ban on Energy Drinks

By Ted Cox on January 18, 2013 12:33pm 

 A new ordinance proposed by Ald. Ed Burke (14th) would ban the sale of energy drinks in Chicago.
A new ordinance proposed by Ald. Ed Burke (14th) would ban the sale of energy drinks in Chicago.
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Flickr/simonippon

CITY HALL — Perhaps having sampled a few himself, Ald. Edward Burke is out to ban energy drinks.

The 14th Ward Gage Park alderman and chairman of the Committee on Finance submitted an ordinance Thursday seeking a ban on any canned or bottled drink with more than 180 milligrams of caffeine. It was sent to the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection.

The ordinance, if passed, would impose a fine of $100 to $500 for selling, bartering, trading or even giving away such a drink. Repeat offenders would be subject to losing their business licenses.

Monster Energy drinks have been cited in five deaths reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The high caffeine can cause a condition causing that's called caffeine toxicity, including dehydration and an accelerated heartbeat.

Monster Energy Chief Executive Officer Rodney Sacks has denied any connection between his product and the deaths.

The ordinance would not apply to a regular can of Red Bull, but would ban larger cans of Monster Energy, 5 Hour Energy and Full Throttle, among others.

It would also not apply to cups of fresh coffee, although according to the Mayo Clinic website a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks' Pike Place contains 330 milligrams of caffeine.

The proposal created some instant disdain online. Former Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica tweeted: "SHUT UP!" The Twitter feed @chitownsports responded: "KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY ENERGY DRINKS!!!" And Huffington Post senior writer Radley Balko tweeted from Nashville, Tenn.: "From my cold, jittery hands," a reference to Charlton Heston's popular National Rifle Association slogan, "I'll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands."

Ald. Burke and Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of the health committee, did not return calls for comment.

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