America is addicted to energy. Let’s not even talk about the incredible amounts consumed by our homes and vehicles. This is about fueling the human machine with any type of upper we can get our hands on. Adults have been addicted to coffee for at least 500 years. Ever since Red Bull brought energy drinks to the U.S. and gave us wings, hundreds of rivals have arrived on scene to try and tap into the lucrative market. Now, Five Hour Energy and similar energy shots are popular due to their convenience and kick. Many Americans don’t sleep nearly as much as they should, and need to jump start their bodies to make it through the day. A new alternative to the traditional energy powerhouses has arrived on the scene at the hands of a Harvard Professor.
Biomedical engineering professor David Edwards is full of trend-bucking ideas. One such idea is what he is referring to as ‘breathable’ or ‘airborne’ energy. Edwards and some colleagues introduced the Aeroshot in 2011. They wanted to deliver the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, along with a full daily dose of vitamins. Their marketing plan is centered around convenience and portability, similar to the Five Hour Energy shot. The company claims to offer ‘breathable energy: anytime, anyplace’ with zero calories and no stained teeth. Their product is currently on sale in a couple of major markets in the United States and Europe. While a seemingly remarkable idea, it is not without it’s controversies. People want to know, is it safe? Is the advertising misleading?
The FDA seems to think there is a cover-up going on. The Food and Drug Administration contacted Edwards’ company, Breathable Foods, and asserted that their labeling is “false and misleading because (the) product cannot be intended for both inhalation and ingestion.” The FDA notes that it has to be one or the other, as the human body cannot use it’s stomach and lungs simultaneously. The FDA’s concern is that there is little existing safety data on the effects of inhaling caffeine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is worried as well. AAP President Robert Block called out Breathable Foods, saying: “While your website claims that AeroShot absolutely does not enter the lungs, it is unlikely that none of the powder can enter the trachea and the large bronchi, if some product does enter the lungs, the fast absorption of caffeine into the body could have serious potential health effects.”
Another hole in the advertising the FDA and AAP were quick to point out is that the product presents itself as being unsuitable for children under 12, but intended for people over 18. They are also concerned that this product will be mixed heavily with alcohol, enabling users to stay up all night consuming more and more alcohol. The fear is that this product could be abused, and become another Four-Loko, which actually resulted in the tragic deaths of several young people.
The concept of breathable energy and breathable food is rather fascinating, as we’ve never seen anything like it. In it’s current form, the Aeroshot, there are too many questions to make a fair assessment on the feasibility of the technology. One would believe a product devised by a Harvard Professor would’ve covered all the bases before being released to the general public.
Breathable Foods certainly isn’t the first company to cut corners, but when lives could be at stake, it’s easy to see why the FDA got involved. Were they too anxious because of the excess caffeine? Or did they not inhale enough and they slept on the details? Either way they’re going to be forced to analyze things a little more closely. Regardless, you may soon be seeing breathable energy at a retailer near you.
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