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Under fire: energy drinks can put consumers at risk

We have all seen the rise of flashy, aggressive advertising by energy drinks over the past decade -- and with it, the rise of energy drinks as an accepted medium of drinks. For many people, Red Bull, Rockstar and 5-Hour Energy have replaced their morning routine of coffee.

These energy drinks carry amazingly high amounts of caffeine and they have little oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That may change soon as another member of the energy drink brotherhood -- Monster -- is under fire after a wave of fatal incidents related to their product.

Five people have recently died after drinking Monster energy drinks; with one of the incidents involving a young girl who succumbed to caffeine poisoning. This is in the wake of a five-year period (2005 to 2009) where emergency room visits due to the consumption of energy drinks has dramatically climbed (roughly 13,000 per year at present).

So what can be done by the FDA to get a better handle on these dangerous, albeit approved, products? Well, it's a little more complicated than just limiting the amount of caffeine in the drinks. Depending on how a new product is defined, it can be subject to different regulations. For example, if the product is a "conventional food," then it has to have a nutrition facts label on it. If the product is labeled a "nutritional supplement," then it only needs a supplemental facts label.

The company gets to decide which of these tags is applied to their product, and the FDA can appeal the choice -- but it can take a long time for that appeal to come to fruition, let alone the fact that the FDA deals with these things on a case-by-case basis.

However, recent events are pushing the FDA towards launching an investigation into the energy drink industry.

Source: Forbes, "Over-Caffeinated: Will The Monster Energy Drink Debacle Prompt Change?," Alice G. Walton, Oct. 23, 2012

  • Adverse medical conditions (from the minor to the serious) caused by dangerous products usually give way to a civil lawsuit. To learn more, please visit our Canton personal injury page.

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