FDA investigating alleged Monster Energy drink related deaths



FDA Investigating Possible Monster Energy Drink Deaths

The highly caffeinated energy drinks might have caused five deaths since 2004, incident reports submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say.

By Annie Hauser

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MONDAY, Oct. 22, 2012 —The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received reports of five deaths linked to Monster Energy, a popular energy drink that contains 160 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce can, the agency recently announced.

The reports do not establish a link between Monster Energy and death or serious side effects, but rather, provide documentation from physicians that five people drank Monster shortly before dying. The reports include 31 other incidents involving negative side effects of Monster and do not detail whether the deaths involved other factors, like alcohol.

The FDA will hold off on safety warnings against these and other high-caffeine energy drinks until a full investigation is complete, FDA spokesperson Shelly Burgess told Bloomberg News.

Wendy Crossland, the mother of a 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who died last year from a heart arrhythmia after drinking Monster Energy, accessed the reports through the Freedom of Information Act. Last week, Crossland filed a lawsuit against the drink's California-based maker, Monster Beverages, and reportedly plans to use the FDA reports as evidence against the company. The lawsuit claims that Monster Beverages failed to warn consumers about the risks of energy drinks.

"Monster does not believe that its beverages are in any way responsible for the death of Ms. Fournier," said company spokesperson Even Pondel in a statement released Friday. "Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks. The Fournier family has chosen to file a lawsuit, which Monster intends to vigorously defend and, in light of such pending litigation, Monster's policy is to not comment further."

The Swedish National Food Administration is investigating Red Bull, another popular energy drink, after at least three Swedes died after drinking Red Bull and alcohol or Red Bull after intense exercise, the Daily Mail reports. An Irish teenager also died last year after drinking four cans of Red Bull in just a few hours. Norway, Denmark, and France have all banned Red Bull from all shops besides pharmacies, labeling it a medicine, rather than a drink, because of its caffeine content.

Energy drinks are considered dietary supplements, and no dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA. TheNew York Timesspeculates that the new reports will spur Congressional calls for energy-product industry regulation, especially considering this is not the first time an energy drink has been associated with deaths.

On top of heart risks, high-caffeine energy drinks can cause sleep problems, dehydration, and even long-term anxiety issues, K. Steven Whiting, PhD, of Phoenix Nutritionals in San Diego says. "Young people really need to be careful with these energy products because their central nervous system is not full developed and [the drinks] can lead to longer-term health problems," he explains.

Experts recommend consuming no more than 300 to 400 mg of caffeine a day, which is about three 6-ounce cups of coffee, four cups of tea, or six sodas. Pregnant women and people with high blood pressure or other known heart issues should limit their intake further.

TELL US: Have you experienced negative side effects from energy drinks? Share your experiences in the comments.






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