Amino Acids

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 451-457

First online:

Rapid analysis of taurine in energy drinks using amino acid analyzer and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy as basis for toxicological evaluation

  • S. TriebelAffiliated withChemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe
  • , C. SprollAffiliated withChemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe
  • , H. ReuschAffiliated withChemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe
  • , R. GodelmannAffiliated withChemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe
  • , D. W. LachenmeierAffiliated withChemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe

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So-called energy drinks with very high amounts of taurine (up to 4000 mg/l are usually granted by certificates of exemption) are increasingly offered on the market. To control the currently valid maximum limits of taurine in energy drinks, a simple and rapid analytical method is required to use it routinely in food monitoring. In this article, we describe a fast and efficient analytical method (FTIR-spectroscopy) that is able to reliably characterize and quantify taurine in energy drinks. The determination of taurine in energy drinks by FTIR was compared with amino acid analyzer (ion chromatography with ninhydrin-postcolumn derivatization). During analysis of 80 energy drinks, a median concentration of 3180 mg/l was found in alcohol-free products, 314 mg/l in energy drinks with spirits, 151 mg/l in beer-containing drinks and 305 mg/l in beverages with wine. Risk analysis of these products is difficult due to the lack of valid toxicological information about taurine and its interferences with other ingredients of energy drinks (for example caffeine and alcohol). So far, the high taurine concentrations of energy drinks in comparison to the rest of the diet are scientifically doubtful, as the advertised physiological effects and the value of supplemented taurine are unproven.

Keywords: Taurine – Amino acid analyzer – FTIR-Spectroscopy – Energy drinks