The Food and Drug Administration recently released a report detailing the deaths of four people blamed on Monster energy drinks.
That report also included details on one non-fatal heart attack allegedly caused by someone ingesting the popular energy drink just prior to the cardiac event. In the death of one 14-year-old girl, the victim allegedly drank two Monster energy drinks over the course of two days. She suffered a cardiac arrhythmia and subsequent fatal heart attack.
The mother of the girl claims Monster Beverage Corp. failed to warn consumers of the dangers of its product and that little or no data exists to show that it is safe to drink or how much of the allegedly highly-caffeinated beverages can be safely consumed. Monster, like all other energy drinks, are considered dietary supplements and not regulated by the FDA.
Labels on the energy drinks claim to have not much more caffeine than a cup of coffee, according to a Washington Post report on the FDA’s investigation, but without proper regulations in place, there is little evidence to validate those claims. Energy drinks like Monster also contain stimulants like guarana and taurine, additives that claim to be all-natural. Like other additives that are found in supplements, they are not subject to FDA regulation so little credible data exists to show they’re safe for human consumption, or at least what levels are safe for consumption.
The effects of caffeine and these other stimulants can be very individualized, though children and the elderly seem to be most sensitive to the effects of caffeine, especially. Five grams of caffeine is considered lethal and Monster claims its drinks contain just 240 milligrams of caffeine.
Despite statistics that show energy drinks are no more potent than cups of coffee, there are other statistics that show the harmful and dangerous effects of drinking too many of these beverages or the wrong people drinking them because of unknown dangers. Emergency room visits caused by ingesting energy drinks have increased exponentially. In many of these cases, the Washington Post notes in its report, the energy drinks were mixed with alcohol and led to complications.
In addition to the reports of deaths, the FDA has also received at least 20 non-fatal injury reports. Monster Beverage says it is only aware of one death linked to the consumption of its popular drink, the one it is currently facing in court. The company denies any link between the death of that girl and its drink.
The FDA investigation has led to calls for increased regulations for energy drinks and dietary supplements, and holding the makers of the products accountable for injuries suspected of being caused by their products.