Legal Battles Continue over Monster Energy Drinks

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Monster Energy, a brand known for its highly caffeinated drinks and sponsorship of extreme sporting events, has found itself facing criticism and legal action from parents who claim the drinks have caused a variety of cardiovascular problems in their children. Since the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit by the parents of a 14-year-old, other similar suits alleging Monster is the cause of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and fatalities.

Nationwide, deaths of individuals of all ages — including those in their teens, twenties, and thirties — are being linked to the consumption of Monster Energy and similar drinks from brands such as Red Bull. According to plaintiffs in these cases, the high levels of caffeine and other ingredients in the drinks is the driving force in the medical complications. Indeed, Drug Abuse Awareness Network (DAWN), a federal government entity under the umbrella of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported earlier this year that high levels of caffeine can cause a variety of ill effects, noting that a can or bottle of an energy drink may contain up to 500 mg of caffeine, “compared with about 100 mg in a 5-ounce cup of coffee or 50 mg in a 12-ounce cola.”

And while Monster Energy drinks tend to contain about 160 mg per 16 oz. can, which is only about half of the caffeine that a 16 oz. cup of coffee would provide, DAWN notes caffeine is only part of the equation. The organization’s report also mentioned that “certain additives may compound the stimulant effects of caffeine.” These additives include ingredients such as guarana, taurine, creatine, and high levels of B vitamins.

Although these additives may be harmful, the way in which Monster Energy and other highly caffeinated beverages means that the drinks are not scrutinized before being put on store shelves. The United States Food and Drug Administration classifies these energy drinks as dietary supplements, rather than food. As dietary supplements, these drinks do not have to undergo inspections to ensure the accuracy of the ingredient blends disclosed on their labels. Supplements tend only to be reviewed, if at all, after being sold, assuming problems are reported. Given the flurry of litigation around Monster Energy and other drinks, the FDA may take a closer look.

 

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