The Prime drink has become one of the most discussed topics in parenting groups on social networks in recent days. This was helped by media coverage, when leading Czech experts pointed out that drinking energy drinks can cause serious health problems, especially in children. The concentration of caffeine in Primo is double that of ordinary energy drinks.
If you drink one package, it is equal to four very strong coffees. “This should not get into children’s hands at all,” says Jan Bozenský, chairman of the Pediatric Obesitology Section of the Czech Obesitological Society.
We have it in stock
But the truth is that the Czechs’ initial avalanche-like interest in Prime is fading. Perhaps also because of critical media coverage. The editor of Hrotu visited a dozen stores this week – supermarkets as well as smaller shops and convenience stores in the wider center of Prague – and the salespeople agreed that, compared to last week, Prime is selling much worse. “Children don’t go, it’s not possible at all,” complained a shopkeeper in a convenience store not far from Wenceslas Square, for example. “I didn’t have time to add it last week, now it’s lying here. We still have a lot of it in the warehouse,” a saleswoman from the Albert supermarket near Prague’s Republiky Square told the Hrotu editor.
The decline in interest in Prime is also evidenced by nationwide data from the Albert chain. “After the initial higher wave of interest, demand has stabilized,” Jiří Mareček, Albert’s press spokesman, told Hrotu. Despite the negative publicity, however, the chain does not intend to withdraw the product from its offer: “The product meets all standards and legislative requirements for sale on the Czech market, and it is up to customers whether they purchase the drink in question.”
The importer of the drink defends himself with the same argument, i.e. that the drink is safe for health according to national and international authorities. “Prim’s composition is approved for sale in the European Union according to European Union legislation, this is enough for us to import,” wrote Marek Starý, manager of LinkAmerika II.
However, the view of experts is very different. Doctors warn that Prime Energy drinks, available in several flavors, are especially appealing to children with their playful marketing and colorful packaging. These are mainly won by the recommendations of popular domestic influencers. For example, YouTuber FIZistyle’s video about the drink already has more than 1.6 million views. “I really like it,” says teacher and influencer Andrea Nguyen in a video for a change.
And the drink is not at all suitable for children due to its composition. “If regular energy drinks are bad for kids, this is worse. A very high concentration of caffeine can lead to severe acute symptoms,” says obesitologist Bozenský, adding that tachycardia (accelerated heart rate) or paresthesia (sensory perception disorder manifested by tingling, tingling, itching or burning) may occur. Other negative effects include restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, irritability or insomnia.
In addition to Prime Energy, there is also a range of Prime Hydration drinks on sale. This has been officially distributed by the Pfanner company in the Czech Republic since last week, and according to the labels, it does not contain caffeine.
According to Pfanner, there is a campaign against the drink. “The product we are launching on the market does not contain any caffeine. The authors of the campaign against the energy drink of the same brand overlooked that we are bringing another product line to the Czech market, namely Prime Hydration,” Lukáš Krůta, Pfanner’s sales and marketing director, wrote to Hrotu. “It is a normal hydration drink, intended for athletes. We do not sell energy drinks. The campaign also claims that the product targets children. That’s not true either. The product is intended for athletes and active people.”
However, even the Prime Hydration range is not considered by some experts to be suitable for children. The reason is the high amount of potassium, which, as Martin Adam from the Faculty of Chemistry and Technology of the University of Pardubice told Deník.cz, can have negative effects on the cardiovascular system. Respected nutritional therapist Jan Stuparič from the Institute of Modern Nutrition is also critical: “The composition makes almost no sense from the point of view of sports nutrition, and it’s not exactly a suitable choice for everyday drinking either.”
High price as an advantage
According to Bozenský, the fact that the energy variant of the Primo is exorbitantly expensive compared to the competition is reassuring. In some stores, it is sold for up to 250 crowns, and many children simply do not have the money for it. However, sellers in the center of Prague were able to react to the drop in interest with discounts, and the author of the article was able to purchase a promotional can of the drink for “only” 89 crowns.
According to Bozenský, it’s a “disruption”. According to him, however, the problem is much broader and concerns a number of other energy drinks, which are sold in stores for as little as seven crowns apiece: “We need to adopt adequate legislation that will limit this. As doctors, we do our best. In addition to public statements, we write articles, we try to communicate the issue not only to professionals, but also to the general public.”
In the past, the consumer organization dTest also drew attention to overly benevolent legislation that allows energy drinks with caffeine to be sold to children. “For energy drinks, we would consider it appropriate to regulate the sale of at least those that are unsuitable for children due to their high caffeine content,” said the director of the association, Eduarda Hekšová.
Not even a lok until sixteen
The state does not currently regulate the sale of energy drinks or their advertising. It only applies that if the energy drink contains an increased amount of caffeine (more than 150 milligrams per liter of drink), the label must warn that it is not suitable for children. However, the sale itself is not prohibited.
Regulation is only being considered so far, and deputy Josef Flek (STAN) is particularly active in it. In the past, he already organized a round table on the issue, another one is scheduled to take place in the Chamber of Deputies in December: “We are solving the age limit for when the sale of energy drinks should be somehow regulated. So far, the age of sixteen is the most common age for doctors to fail.”
The Prime brand is a joint venture between athletes and influencers Logan Paul and KSI (Olajide William Olayinka “JJ” Olatunji). Both are extremely active on social media and their brand of drinks has become very popular in the US market thanks to predatory marketing. Despite low production costs, the pair set high prices. Nevertheless, in the first months there was such an interest in the drink that it was practically impossible to find and for a while it was sold for up to ten times the price. In addition, some limited editions have become a prized collector’s item.
Prime is the official drink of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the UFC mixed martial arts organization and several leading soccer clubs, such as FC Barcelona. Logan Paul himself boasted that Prime achieved $250 million in retail sales in its first year alone.
In its home country of the United States, the drink is handled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In July, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer approached the office about possible health impacts on children.