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A serious problem with labeling brought to light by a very sad story

When FoodFacts.com learns of a story like this we feel compelled to bring it in front of our community. We are committed to educating our audience about what is actually in the food products we consume every day and alert everyone we can about possible dangers in our food supply. Sometimes, though, that mission becomes disturbing and sad.

Earlier this month, Wendy Crossland filed suit against Monster Beverage, the company that produces Monster Energy Drinks. Her 14 year old daughter died last year from cardiac arrest after she had consumed two 24 –ounce cans of the drink over a 24-hour period. Her lawsuit states that Monster Energy did not warn about the risks of consuming its drinks. According to the results of her daughter’s autopsy, the teenager passed due to “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” that exacerbated an underlying heart problem.

First let’s touch on how much caffeine is in an average-sized cup of coffee. It’s about 100 milligrams. In one 24-ounce can of Monster Energy, there are 240 milligrams. An average grown, healthy adult who has no adverse reactions to caffeine can safely consume between 200 and 300 milligrams per day. The teenage girl who passed away consumed 480 milligrams in a 24-hour period … well over the amount that’s safe for grown human beings. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that adolescents consume no more than 100 milligrams per day.

While FoodFacts.com understands that the teenager willingly consumed the beverages and the company did not force her to purchase them, we feel that it is important to point out that she had no way of knowing how much caffeine she was consuming. While the FDA does regulate the amount of caffeine in soft drinks and has set the limit in 12 ounces of soda at about 71 milligrams, energy drinks are not held to these same standards. Since energy drink manufacturers choose to classify their products as dietary supplements, they are not required to adhere to the same regulations or to label the actual amount of caffeine their beverages contain.

In addition to that very important piece of information, energy drinks most often contain guarana seeds. This botanical product breaks down to caffeine – in a potent way. Three to five grams of guarana seed breaks down to 250 milligrams of caffeine. This is in ADDITION to the actual caffeine the manufacturers are adding to the drinks.

Last spring, the FDA was asked to investigate the caffeine levels and the safety of other ingredients in energy drinks. Noting the products’ specific appeal to young people, it was felt that manufacturers need to prove the their safety.

It appears that Wendy Crossland’s 14-year-old daughter is one of five people who may have died in the last three years consuming energy drinks. In addition, according to a 2009 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, visits to the emergency-room directly related to the consumption of energy drinks rose from 1128 in 2005 to over 13,000 in 2009.

While the FDA is investigating the five deaths reported that seem to be related to energy drink consumption, FoodFacts.com can’t help but wonder why it’s allowable for these beverage manufacturers to avoid rules that have been set in place by the FDA for other caffeinated drink producers. Our government seems to be very proficient at regulating many other industries and products. We can’t help wonder why energy drinks seem to escape this much-needed step.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/business/fda-receives-death-reports-citing-monster-energy-a-high-caffeine-drink.html?_r=1&
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-monster-fda-20121023,0,181549.story
http://neurobonkers.com/2012/06/19/where-does-your-energy-drink-fall-on-the-caffeine-spectrum-and-does-that-taurine-actually-do-anything/

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