USA Today reports that five deaths and one heart attack have been reportedly linked to Monster energy drinks, and health and safety advocates believe this “should bolster efforts to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate caffeinated energy drinks.”
FDA spokeswoman, Shelley Burgess, says that the agency “investigate[s] each report diligently,” but Monster Beverage said in a statement that “neither the science nor the facts support the allegations that have been made. Monster reiterates that its products are and always have been safe.”
But the USA Today article says that according to a federal report last year, “emergency room visits involving energy drinks has increased tenfold between 2005 and 2009.” Half of those visits, though, involved the energy drinks when mixed with drugs or alcohol. Alcoholic energy drinks were banned in 2010 after reports of illnesses and deaths.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who has been pushing for stricter FDA regulations on energy drinks, said, “Sometimes, tragedy prompts action even from entrenched bureaucratic skeptics. These tragedies put a face and a voice to a very severe danger.” Blumenthal says his concern is that natural ingredients that act as stimulants can be a risky combination for people with undiagnosed heart conditions.
The FDA currently does not regulate caffeine in energy beverages, and they can be marketed at dietary supplements.