Undisclosed state authorities have launched an investigation into claims made by the makers of Monster energy drinks.
According to a Law360.com report, Monster Beverage Corp. announced in its quarterly regulatory filing that the company is the subject of an investigation by authorities in an undisclosed state over the health and safety claims the company attaches to its popular line of energy soft drinks.
Monster is among the more popular in a growing market of energy drinks. The company, in its same Securities and Exchange Commission filing, noted that its income rose 30 percent over the last quarter to $109.8 million.
Like other makers of energy drinks, marketing them as “dietary supplements” instead of soft drinks allows them to include more caffeine than federal regulators allow for a soda product like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Caffeine levels in sodas are limited by the Food and Drug Administration. Being a dietary supplement means the entire line of energy drinks – including Monster, Rockstar, and RedBull – can escape those regulations, at least for the time being.
In the last several years however, the FDA has launched a crackdown on the safety of dietary supplement products, namely those sold at health food and fitness stores. In many cases, those supplements which have eventually been removed from the market have been found to contain some form of pharmaceutical agent.
Though Monster does not disclose the nature of the investigation it’s currently the focus of, the fact that energy drinks like it have led to a dramatic rise in serious adverse reactions and health side effects is likely the precipice for the inquiry. Since 2005, according to the Law360.com report, energy drink users have been admitted to emergency rooms approximately 13,000 times a year due to adverse health reactions, a ten-fold increase over levels prior to that.
Energy drinks are deceptively placed next to soft drinks in retail locations. There is very little to distinguish them from other soda products and many consumers are drinking them as if they were just a more caffeinated soft drink, not realizing they could be putting themselves at risk of serious injuries or, potentially, death.
Energy drinks can cause increased heart rate and persistent use of the beverages could make that condition worse and possibly lead to more serious cardiac side effects.
A Congressional initiative to mandate regulation of energy drinks and other dietary supplements has literally stalled in recent months. The law, Dietary Supplement Labelling Act of 2011, would require makers of dietary supplements – including those which make energy soft drinks – to include more information about the ingredients in them, including just how much caffeine is included in the beverages.