Recent reports of deaths after the consumption of energy drinks or shots have prompted U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Richard Blumenthal, Democrats from Illinois and Connecticut, to ask the FDA to investigate whether specific stimulants in the drinks can be harmful, including some deemed GRAS by beverage makers. FDA has not determined what caused the deaths.
Carl Keen holds the chair in developmental nutrition at the University of California, Davis — a position funded by Mars, Inc. As such, Keen develops new ingredients for the candy giant, and his research has found that certain nutrients in cocoa powder can lower heart disease risk.
He and other food scientists said the GRAS process is an efficient way to get beneficial new additives to consumers and that companies apply the highest safety standards.
"You'll have the average consumer say industry research taints the system," he said. "But if you ask them should the federal government be vetting research on the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa, they'll probably say no."