Senators Call for Energy Drink Investigation & FDA Regulation

It looks like Congress is going to have a busy year.  They're already investigating one health crisis- the fungal meningitis outbreak, but now 2 Senators are calling for investigations into energy drinks. 

“There’s increasing evidence of the very urgent and dangerous threat posed by these drinks because of their high levels of caffeine, which are often undisclosed, and the effects of combining that caffeine with other ingredients,” said CT Senator Blumenthal.
Are Energy Drinks Dangerous

Energy drinks are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Because they classify themselves as a fitness and health supplement, they are outside of the FDA's jurisdiction.  Therefore you may not really know if the claims they make on their packaging are accurate.

The Senators specifically identified 5 energy drinks that they think are problematic.  Noticeably absent is Monster Energy, which has been sued for 2 children's alleged wrongful deaths. These beverages are:
  • NOS
  • Full Throttle
  • Redbull
  • AMP
  • 5 Hour Energy
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, energy drink related emergency room visits have increased tenfold in 4 years. Their 2009 report listed 13,114 emergency room visits due to energy drink consumption.

Do Consumers Use Energy Drinks Wrong

Many of these energy drink companies have released statements that if used properly, their product isn't dangerous.  However, their drinks are popular not only as coffee alternatives, but also as a focal point in nightlife scenes.  Would these same companies say it's inappropriate to consume 4 of their drinks in an hour at a nightclub?

What about people with hidden heart conditions or sensitivities to caffeine? Can consumers with undiagnosed problems use their beverages without harm?

Should the FDA Step in to Regulate these Drinks

Currently the FDA regulates caffeine in products like soda, which cannot exceed 70 mg of caffeine per 12 oz can of soda. But according to the Journal of Pediatrics, the caffeine present in some energy drinks “can exceed 500 mg (equivalent to 14 cans of common caffeinated soft drinks) and is clearly high enough to result in caffeine toxicity.”  Due to these high caffeine counts, the American Academy of Pediatrics has cautioned that children and young adults should "never" consume energy drinks.

In response to the Senators' letter, the FDA replied, “ The FDA is considering several citizen petitions requesting limits on caffeine in foods and requiring that labels state these limits."  Due to these concerns, the FDA is in the process of drafting guidelines for the energy drink industry regarding safe caffeine levels.
If You Have Been Harmed By an Energy Drink

If you have been harmed by an energy drink, seek the medical attention you need.  And then call an experienced product liability attorney.  Preserve your rights and protect yourself.  You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries.