After a Maryland couple has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against energy drink maker Monster Energy Company, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating a number deaths associated with the high-caffeine drink. The popular drink is not classified as a food or beverage so it is not subject to the standards applicable to other drinks such as Coca Cola or Pepsi.
Nevertheless, the investigation suggests that the FDA is monitoring health warnings about energy drinks and the amount of caffeine used in conjunction with other stimulants, including taurine and guarana (a plant containing caffeine). According to a report by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, the number of emergency room visits due to use of energy drinks increased dramatically last year. In fact, 70 percent of ER visits involved teens who had consumed energy drinks (as opposed to drugs or alcohol).
Because of this, the focus on the amount of caffeine continues to be an important focal point in future regulations and in wrongful death cases.
The Maryland wrongful death suit involves a 14 year old girl who allegedly suffered cardiac arrest after drinking two cans of Monster Energy within a 24 hour period. The girl's parents claim that Monster Energy is a dangerous product and that its manufacturer failed to place adequate warnings regarding the amount of caffeine in the drink, and about the potential consequences of consuming too much of it at one time.
Under FDA regulations, the amount of caffeine is limited to 71 milligrams for each 12 ounce beverage serving. It is estimated that a 24 ounce can of Monster Energy drink has 240 milligrams of caffeine; well above the recommended limit of 100 milligrams per day.
Source: WebMD.com, FDA: 5 Death Reports for Monster Energy Drink, October 23, 2012