Safety of Caffeinated Energy Drinks Questioned Once Again

By Emily Murray

Many of us can’t imagine starting our day without a caffeine pick-me-up but if you are getting your rush form an energy drink are you putting your health at risk? This is a question that many are urging then FDA to answer after an apparent 5 deaths have occurred shortly after consuming Monster Energy drinks.

While other factors may not have been taken into consideration in these deaths, they were obtained by the mother of one victim, a 14-year-old girl, under the Freedom of Information Act. Her daughter, Anais Fournier, passed away last year after reportedly drinking two 24 ounce Monster drinks in a 24 hour period. Her cause of death was listed as “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.” While there was also a heart condition involved in this death, the girl was never told to limit any caffeine as a result.

So what are the current regulations placed on these drinks?

When it comes to caffeine amount, the FDA does not require this to be placed on the limit anywhere. If a supplement or drink contains caffeine it must say it does but the actual amount of caffeine does not need to be specified. The FDA does have their own regulation for how much they allow in products they regulate, but since energy drinks are sold as dietary supplements they are not limited to the regulations of the agency.  According to a TIME article on the subject, energy drinks can contain 160 mg to 500 mg per serving of caffeine as reported by ABC, it can take 5 g to 10 g of caffeine to result in death. Of course other factors come in, including age, weight and other health conditions.

Last year, a similar call for investigation was launched when the alcoholic energy drink Four Loco hit the shelves, resulting in several deaths. This also led some bars to actually no longer carry energy drinks as mixers.