The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating five deaths and a nonfatal heart attack that may be linked to the high-caffeine energy drinks made by the Monster Energy Company.
At this time, there is no proof that the energy drinks caused the deaths, but the FDA is concerned enough to investigate. They will look at whether the deaths were caused by caffeine overdose or large amounts of other stimulants, such as taurine and guarana.
Energy drinks can contain well over the FDA-mandated limit of 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce soda. This is because energy drinks are considered nutritional substances, not foods. The cans don’t always list the amount of caffeine in the drinks, but it is estimated that each drink contains about 240 mg of caffeine. Teens and children should have no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, the amount in a eight ounce cup of coffee. Adults should have no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.
The FDA study is not the first sign that energy drinks may pose a health risk. Last year, a report was published in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers looked at how energy drinks affect children, teens, and young adults. They determined that the high dose of caffeine in energy drinks can cause irregular heart rhythms and may cause sudden death in children with hidden heart risks.
The study is supported by real world evidence. According to the the U.S. Drug Abuse Warning Network, visits to the emergency room for symptoms involving energy drinks increased ten-fold in 2011. More than two-thirds of the cases of cases involved teens ages 12 to 17. For these young people, the energy drink was the main reason for the emergency room visit.
Fourteen-year-old Anais Fournier was one of these teens. She collapsed after drinking two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks in two days. Her heart stopped. She was taken to the hospital where she was put in an induced coma. Six days later, on Christmas Eve 2011, Anais died.
Her parents are filing a product liability lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corporation. They say that Monster Energy is a dangerous product and that the company is negligent in marketing the product to teens and young adults. The company says that it is complying with all federal regulations and is not responsible for the deaths.