Did Five people die from a caffeine overload associated with ‘Monster’ energy drinks? Are these cases just the tip of an iceberg? What is certain is that they are the headline part of newly published FDA (Food and Drug Administration) incident reports. These incidents alone, nor the assumption of many more unreported incidents, does not constitute a proven causal link between caffeine in Monster drinks and the deaths or health issues.
The reports were requested by the mother of a Maryland teenager who died of “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.” The 14-year-old had consumed large cans of Monster energy drinks two days in a row. Wendy Crossland, the mother of the dead teenager is suing Monster Beverage, a public company based in Corona California. The mother says Monster should warn consumers about the risks associated with the caffeine in its products. The company of course denies any danger in their products and says they know of no deaths anywhere associated with Monster energy drinks.
The FDA reports were reported in the press last week and the stock of Monster Beverages took the predictable dip on the New York stock exchange. The FDA have had incident reports of 5 deaths that may or may not be linked to the beverage. they have also had a report of 1 serious but non-fatal heart attack. The deaths have happened in the years since ‘09 but there have been other reports dating back to ‘04 that include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, tremors and raised heart rate.
The big unknown in these reports is what pre-existing medical conditions were there and what involvement, if any, is there from alcohol or drugs. These incident reports give ammunition to congressional calls for greater regulation of the energy products industry sector. Monster energy is just the strangest named of a large number of suppliers, including Red Bull, Rock Star and the ‘energy shot’, 5-hour energy. The target market for these beverages are definitely the younger age consumer and teenagers in particular.
Because self-regulation works so well in all realms of corporate America, it remains the responsibility of the energy drink companies to look into the claims of a link between deaths and injuries attributed to them. A spokesperson for the FDA says they are still investigating the cases reported so far, but have found no evidence of cause and effect.
The wider concern raised by these incidents is just how well manufacturers of consumer products monitor the ‘wholesomeness’ of their offerings and just how well the FDA oversees their innovations and practices.
A spokesperson for Monster Beverage said that they had only received the report on the Maryland teenage death and not the other reports. She also admitted that she did not know if her company proactively checked with the FDA beverage related reports. Among the brands the company markets are ‘Monster Rehab’, ‘Monster Heavy Metal’ and ‘Monster Assault’. Their labelling state that the drinks are ‘not recommended’ for the under 12’s