The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation towards two energy drinks that are sold at convenience stores nationwide. The two energy drinks, 5-Hour Energy and Monster Energy, have both been linked to recent reports of deaths, heart attacks and illness over the past year in the U.S.
First it began in October, when the FDA announced that they were questioning whether 5 related deaths and a non fatal heart attack could’ve been linked to the consumption of Monster. Monster drinks are usually available at convenience stores, gas stations and are heavily accessible on college campuses as well. Usually, one 16 oz can only costs $1.99.
This month, the FDA took note of another energy drink that may have caused deaths. They are now questioning whether 13 deaths were related to the consumption of 5-hour energy drinks, energy shots which are widely available over the counter at convenience stores as well.
The FDA has noted however that the launch of the investigations does not warrant an immediate pull back on the products, because no determination has been made on whether the deaths and heart attacks in question were directly linked as of yet. The FDA however has always advised consumers that energy drinks are not to be substituted for rest or sleep and caution consumers to seek consulting from a doctor before drinking them, to ensure the product will not aggravate any undiagnosed medical problems.
On Tuesday the FDA sent out a press release informing the public that they will likely seek advice from outside experts to help determine whether energy drinks posed any sort of threat or risks to teenagers or individuals with health problems, implying that they have yet to make a decision on where they stand with these products or whether there was any need to limit their accessibility.
“Areas of particular focus would include such matters as the vulnerability of certain populations to stimulants and the incidence and consequence of excessive consumption of energy drinks, especially by young people,” FDA. officials wrote.
While the FDA is questioning the health risks of energy drinks, some U.S. senators have already spoken out against the products. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Senator Richard Bluementhal of Connecticut have raised concerns over the caffeine levels found in the energy drinks and have cited other ingredients such as guarana and tuarine as potentially hazardous. The senators urged the FDA to take greater action on Tuesday.
“There is very clearly a lack of understanding about the health effects of energy drinks and their ingredients especially on children and adolescents,” said Durbin and Blumenthal. “We are glad to see that the FDA is undertaking a review, but more needs to be done and quickly. For instance, FDA can and should take action now to regulate energy drinks that are marketed as beverages, like Red Bull which has more than the standard of 71 mg of caffeine per 12oz, more than is held than in beverages like Coke and Pepsi,” said the senators in a statement.
In a response to the senators, the FDA stated the following;
“New products and patterns of use require us to remain vigilant, and we are working to strengthen our understanding of the nature of energy drinks and any causal risks to health.”
The FDA did say however that they will consider imposing such regulations as requiring disclosure of the amount of caffeine in food products, the limitations on intended use and warnings about possible adverse effects. Many would consider that a big step considering a recent study has shown that 11 of the Top 27 energy drinks don’t disclose such contents.
Durbin and Blumenthal have requested a meeting with FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, to further discuss the steps the agency is taking to ensure the safety of these products. They are hopeful the meeting will be scheduled before the end of the year.
Meanwhile Founder and CEO of 5-Hour Energy, Manoj Bhargava has gone on the record to claim reports of deaths in relation to the product are completely false, adding that the people who were making these claims are “just after some money.”