In the wake of the December 2011 death of 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who had a heart attack after drinking two 24 oz. cans of Monster Energy drink, the FDA has released reports of five deaths in the last three years that are incidentally associated to Monster Energy. These reports in no way prove that the energy drink was the cause of death, but they do cast an inauspicious shadow on an industry that is overdue for increased scrutiny.
The reports were originally obtained by Fournier’s mother through a Freedom of Information Act request, and she has since filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage on charges that the company didn’t adequately disclose the drinks’ safety risk.
The lawsuit comes on top of a New York attorney general probe into the ways companies market caffeine content. Often, products will only list added caffeine content, without disclosing the content from additional ingredients like guarana, green tea and yerba maté.
Also, in April, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) took up Fournier’s tragedy as a rallying cry and sent a letter to FDA calling for tougher regulation of caffeine levels in energy beverages. Durbin has been a longtime proponent of greater dietary supplement regulation, and will likely use the growing furor around energy drinks to increase pressure on the industry.
Bottom line: Caffeine is an issue that the supplement industry (Monster Energy is a dietary supplement) has left largely ignored for a long time, and will have to start taking it very seriously very soon. NBJ will address this topic in more depth for our upcoming November/December Raw Material & Ingredient Supply issue.