Are Energy Drinks Fatally Caffeinated?

One family is suing an energy drink maker after a 14-year old died soon after consuming the caffeinated beverages.

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Marty Katz / Redux / The New York Times

Wendy Crossland with a picture of her daughter, Anais Fournier, who died last year of cardiac arrest, in Hagerstown, Md., Oct. 22, 2012.

One family is suing an energy drink maker after a 14-year old died soon after consuming the caffeinated beverages.

In the last three years, five people died after downing highly caffeinated Monster Energy drinks, according to information released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency has not confirmed that the energy drinks were directly responsible for the deaths, but the voluntary reports to the FDA are part of 37 adverse events sent in by the public involving Monster drinks. The agency says it is investigating any potential health risks associated with the caffeine content of these beverages.

(MORE: New York Lawmakers Investigate Energy Drink Claims)

Parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier filed a lawsuit against Monster Energy claiming the caffeine in the company’s drinks killed their daughter. Fournier reportedly consumed two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks in 24 hours and her autopsy attributed her death to “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.”

The lawyer for Fournier’s family, Kevin Goldberg, obtained the adverse event reports collected by the FDA’s Center for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System under the Freedom of Information Act. Fournier had an underlying heart condition, but Goldberg told the New York Times her physician had not advised her to curb caffeine use or activity.

MORE: Do Energy Drinks Lead to Alcohol Abuse?

According to the Times, between 2004 to June of this year, the FDA received reports of five deaths linked to Monster, an additional death related to another energy drink, as well as other side effects such as stomach pain, vomiting and abnormal heart rates linked to energy drinks, which include Monster and brands like Red Bull and Rockstar. Bloomberg reports that emergency room visits involving the beverages have soared 10-fold between 2005 and 2009.

In response to the lawsuit, Monster Energy spokesman Evan Pondel said in a statement:“Over the past 16 years Monster has sold more than 8 billion energy drinks, which have been safely consumed worldwide. Monster does not believe that its beverages are in any way responsible for the death of Ms. Fournier. Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks.”

(MORE: Energy Drinks May Harm Health, Especially for Children)

The FDA says that because the adverse reporting system is voluntary, the agency cannot rule out other potential causes of death, such as health conditions or drug or alcohol use. But the system is often a harbinger of potentially harmful ingredients in food or beverages; in this case, the reports are prompting calls for the FDA to take a more rigorous look at the amount of caffeine included in energy drinks. Currently, the FDA does not require the amount of caffeine in a product to be listed on the food label. Since caffeine is not considered a nutrient, it only needs to be listed under ingredients if it is added to a food. Energy drinks aren’t regulated under FDA guidelines because they are sold as dietary supplements. And if they did fall under the FDA’s authority, the beverages would far exceed the levels that the agency considers safe — the FDA allows sodas to contain 71mg of caffeine per 12 oz., and requires makers to prove safety of any higher amounts. Energy drinks can contain anywhere from 160mg to 500 mg of caffeine per serving, according to the FDA.

Illinois Democratic Senator Richard J. Durbin, however, has pushed the agency to enforce caffeine levels in energy drinks as well as investigate potential dangers from additives in the beverages. In August, New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman also began probing energy drink makers over how faithfully they disclose all their ingredients to consumers.
The challenge for these efforts will be to find a threshold for defining toxic levels of caffeine in foods or beverages. Toxicologists told ABC News said that 5g to 10g of caffeine can typically cause death, but other factors, such as a person’s weight, pre-existing medical conditions and medication use, can bring that level down. It just remains to be seen whether that threshold comes anywhere close to levels reached by drinking several servings of energy drinks.

29 comments
michealhussy121
michealhussy121

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MarcoJaramillo
MarcoJaramillo

I drink a 16oz red bull almost everyday its bad and I should stop but to tell you the truth if I died from it that would be my fault it all depends on weather you give a rats butt

MarcoJaramillo
MarcoJaramillo

Look if you drink an energy drink your well aware of the risk if you die its on you I feel bad for her but its was her fault plain and simple

ScandinavianGold
ScandinavianGold

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RachelRamirez
RachelRamirez

Oh right, AND ir's an ENERGY DRINK, not some drink to be "downed" and it's supposed to give you ENERGY! I that means start moving when you are drinking these things not sitting on your butt all day and think oh this is going to give me energy so i can  get through the rest of this show NO! It was meant for people on the go that need a boost! And at 14 wouldn't you think they would have enough energy with out having to drink one of these.. I love MONSTER I have been drinking them for 10 years.. it's the parents fault she is dead Because monster has always had their label stating who shouldn't drink their product. what ever case close in my book!

RachelRamirez
RachelRamirez

1. She's 14yrs old!!2. She's 14yrs old!!3. SHE'S 14YRS OLD!!!And Monster has always had a warning label it clearly states that CHILDREN SHOULD NOT CONSUME THE DRINK!!

TerraBeck
TerraBeck

UMMM.... WHY WOULD YOU LET YOUR 14 YEAR OLD DRINK MONSTER TO BEGIN WITH? SORRY BUT IT IS THE PARENTS FAULT ON THIS ONE. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE DOING. BUT BY ALL MEANS LETS ALL HAVE THE MINDSET, MONSTER IS GETTING RICH SELLING THIS STUFF, YEAH I WANT SOME OF THE MONEY.

HeatherAnneHesselbach
HeatherAnneHesselbach

I believe I need to start a law where you have to be 18 in order to drink or purchase of any kind of energy drink. I've seen bunch of Teenagers buying energy drinks all the time. If I were their parent I would tell them you're not allowed to buy any kind of energy drinks. I would rather drink tea than drinking any kind of Energy drink. Energy Drink has more caffeine than green tea.

MatteoSiegel
MatteoSiegel

What parent would let there child drink not one but two energy drinks then she has the nerve to sue monster hello its her fault her kid died Parents need to pay more attention to what kids drink and eat.

calleevan
calleevan

You all also have to understand its not ALL because it killed this one girl, is because it is a know fact that Monsters do have a ton of caffeine (more than needed) and therefore should actually have some special regulations. The only reason why her death is important is because we are for one, human beings and should care about what killed this little girl, and secondly, this death opens up a reason in the public's heart and mind to actually fight for this and take some action, no matter how small of a thing it is.

calleevan
calleevan

The caption under the picture is wrong, it says she died last year but she really died this year

Talendria
Talendria

My kid isn't even allowed to drink Pepsi.  IMO they should age-restrict these "energy drinks" to adults.

JohnPaulVergaraArocena
JohnPaulVergaraArocena

according to the article, indeed caffeine is dangerous if you have a preexisting medical condition, such as thyroid problem, and cardiovascular problem, because it can  excite the heart muscle that can lead to fatal arrythmia. or even it increase the mortality of over dosage of caffeine if you are taking medication such as anti depressant, pain reliever  anti convulsant, and other drugs that has an effect on the central nervous system. 

mrpoparue
mrpoparue

What's wrong with you? Don't you know that monster is libel if a parent allows their child to drink as much as she wants knowing that the child has a heart condition. This laywer is scum and the parents are trying to shift the blame off them as it can't be their fault. disgusting parental behavior pure and simple and the parents should be arrested for child endangerment.

sandtrash
sandtrash

all monster cans have a consumer responsiblity lable on the can under the ingredience that states you should not drink more than 3 cans of 16oz monster in 24hr. On the 24oz can it says the same thing only the limit is 1.It also says not for children, pregnet wemen, or people who are sensitive to caffien.

ValKain
ValKain

I've drank 5 16oz cans of monster and/or other energy drinks spread throughout a 10 hour shift.  I'm still alive.  For other health issues, I'm now on medications that could heart arrhythmia.  I still drink caffeinated but in much lower quantity.  I'm still alive.  It's common sense to watch what you eat, drink, in moderation while being mindful of your health and body.  When I started to become immune to the effects of caffeine and needed more and more to stay awake, I also cut out caffeine for a month and focused on sleeping properly than forcing a potential health issue.

It's not monsters fault.  While I wish to be respectful to the dead, the child, and her parents bear the responsability.   The child should have been taught to be more conciious if she has any health problems.  It's not like she has life experience to know symptoms, so educate.  It's also the parenting issue if the kid got easy access to energy drinks.  Don't buy it for them or teach them how to spend their allowance wisely..  Again, I find no fault in Monster or any other Energy Drink Company,

gabeabipiin
gabeabipiin

Let's do some math! The caffeine content in one 16 oz Monster is 160 mg. So, that means in 8 oz., there is 80 mg of caffeine. Now, 48 (which is 24x2) divided by 8 is 6! So, 6x80=480 mg of caffeine, or .48 g. Considering this article (hopefully a reputable source of information) states that 5-10 g of caffeine is the lethal threshold, and their dose of caffeine from these two 24 oz Monster beverages was roughly a tenth of the lower end of that spectrum, one could infer that this person obviously had either an extreme sensitivity to caffeine, or a potentially unknown prior condition.

minortriad
minortriad

I don't believe we should blame Monster for what happened to this poor 14 year old girl. However, I do agree that there should be more regulation regarding the labeling content of these energy drinks. Again, with the FDA, these are considered dietary supplements and only require the name of the ingredients in the label and not specifically how much caffeine is in the drink. If you look at back of Monster, it will tell you 2400 mg of "energy blend" whatever that means. This will not improve safety with these drinks, but will also empower the consumer to make valid comparisons with the multitude energy drinks on the market of today.

Trivia: first energy drink to appear in US is RedBull (from Austria) in the late 90's. :)

brewil
brewil

I've seen Red Bull and Monster Energy handing out cans to skaters younger than 15 when I was living in Australia. They sponsor skate and other extreme sports and as such are indirectly (or directly) targeting teens and teens will try things. How many of you smoked before you were 18? It's cruel to blame the parents. Marketing and advertising is so full on nowadays it's impossible not to be affected and what 14 year old reads the ingredients or warnings on a can that looks like a soft drink?

snrowe
snrowe

For more information on Anais's death and condition please refer to the local newspaper article from her hometown. It provides a bit more insight. (http://www.herald-mail.com/lifestyle/hm-hagerstown-mother-wants-fda-to-regulate-energy-drinks-20120720,0,4081030.story) Please also be respectful of the fact that a 14 year old girl lost her life and her parents' lost their beloved daughter. Contest this article if you want but please be considerate of the lives you are commenting on.

Yes, she should not have had that beverage. Yes, she had a heart condition. The energy drink was a part (not the whole picture) of the cause of her death. BUT let's get to the point of her mother's efforts. Energy drinks are allowed to be classified as a dietary supplement so they are less regulated. The companies are not required to tell consumers what is in the beverages. I do not think it unreasonable for this request to be made. If more information is more readily available and consumers can make more educated decisions and these efforts could benefit someone's health or even-life then it's worth it.

Lomboc
Lomboc

SHe had a heart condtion and now its someone elses fault that she was not properly treating herself. I guess it is time to take cars off the road as over 25,000 people die a year.

DaneCurrier-Carlson
DaneCurrier-Carlson

Why was a 14 year old drinking it in the first place. The can has warnings on it for a reason.. no more than three 16oz cans per day.. not for children.. that right there tells me mom and dad are to blame. I have drank monster for over 4 years now and i drink within moderation and i have a heart condition.. MOM AND DAD neex to take responsibility for actions by allowing a 14 year old to even drink caffeine like this.. it their fault not Monster

LeviDaughtry
LeviDaughtry

Anyone with enough common sense knows how much caffeine is in one of the drinks. This is just an excuse to sue. Fact is your daughter made a bad choice. Who had a heart condition in the first place. Not the Drinks fault. This is just natural selection doing its thing. Sad Yes, Monsters fault NO. Bad Parenting HMMMM COULD BE. 

moatsad
moatsad

500mg  per serving . but those cans are more than 1 serving  even though in reality everyone drinks them at once as 1 serving. amounts of ingredients should be listed by container size first , then maybe smaller as serving size for containers that really are multiple person servings .

Don
Don

"Fournier had an underlying heart condition, but Goldberg told the New York Times her physician had not advised her to curb caffeine use or activity."

If she had a heart condition, the fault lies with her, her parents, and maybe--but not likely--her doctor.  It sounds like an education issue on the effects of caffeine.  Energy drinks serve a functional purpose, it's not really the company's fault if people abuse them without need.  I don't see the point attempting to blame a manufacturer that provides a product that clearly--and adequately in my opinion--advertises its function.

gwilliams2913
gwilliams2913

What kind of parents let their 14 year old drink 2 24oz energy drinks? Cause of death = bad parenting

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@Talendria 

Having to front ID for a red bull is a bit extreme.

Sometimes stuff you consume will kill you... It is a risk in life you have to accept.

Making the world totally safe is not possible nor desirable because a person's body is to be used or abused by choice of the owner and nobody else.

RachelRamirez
RachelRamirez

@brewil But you have to see that it was a skating competition not a sitting on the couch watching TV competition.. She was just walking around the mall "so they say". She had not prior or latter PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.. Those who actually do workout or have physical activity with these drinks will move it faster in the body and out of the body! And how could you mistake this as a "soft drink" At the QT stores here in Arizona and Circle K's they are not put in the same isle as the "soft drinks" and juices. It is actually on the other side where the harder drinks and beer are, so you would have to venture some to get these drinks it's not like it would be a mistake as if it were in the soda isle.. nope.. And how is it cruel to blame the parents.. she was obviously out with a 17 or 18 year old boy as well as is stated by her mother they were going to see a rated R movie but she could not get in as because she was underage.. So yea I would say the parents have bad judgement that pours on to the children and take the actions of their parents.. u____u