A long day at the office or an all-nighter to meet a deadline has driven many to consume so-called energy drinks.. These canned beverages, mostly fueled by caffeine, are the fastest growing segment of the beverage market according to an article at Forbes.com. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while the average adult can handle about 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, the same amount can be dangerous for children and teenagers.
The actual amount of caffeine in energy drinks is difficult to establish because they are marketed as supplements, not food, so they can get around FDA regulations and labeling laws. While soda cannot contain more than 0.02 percent caffeine, energy drink makers are not subject to the same limit.
California-based Monster Beverage Corp. is currently being sued by the family of a 14-year-old Maryland girl with an underlying heart condition, Anais Fournier, who died after drinking two cans of a Monster Energy® drink in a 24-hour time period. According to the company, a 24-ounce can of Monster Energy has about 240 milligrams of caffeine. According to Forbes, in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, a report entitled “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” warned that the drinks could cause “palpitations, seizures, strokes, and even sudden death.”
The FDA has received reports that the deaths of five people since 2009 may be linked to Monster Energy drinks. In San Francisco, Dennis J. Herrera, the city attorney, told Monster Energy to substantiate its claim that large daily quantities of its energy drinks were safe for both adolescents and adults. Herrera is demanding that the company substantiate claims that consumers of Monster Energy “can never get too much of a good thing.” Herrera issued his letter under the provisions of a California state law—California’s Unfair Competition Law—that allows makes it illegal for a company to make misleading or false advertising claims purportedly based on fact or clinical data.
In a statement from Monster Beverage Corp., the company says it is “saddened by the untimely passing of Anais Fournier, “ but it stands by the safety of its products, noting that, “tens of billions of energy drinks have been sold and safely consumed worldwide for approximately 25 years, including more than eight billion cans of Monster Energy.” It also states that Monster Energy drinks, “including their ingredients and labeling, are in full compliance with all laws and regulations in each of the more than 70 countries in which they are sold.”
On the Monster Energy website, Monster Energy drink is described as “a wicked mega hit that delivers twice the buzz of a regular energy drink. Monster packs a vicious punch but has a smooth flavor you can really pound down.”
Is this something we really want our teenagers to be drinking?