Last Update: 01/25/16
Energy drinks are consumed by different types of consumers for many different reasons. They are promoted as diet aides, performance boosters, or ways to stay awake (important for students cramming for exams as well as drivers taking long trips), among other things. You may recognize some of the more popular energy drinks by name: Monster, Red Bull, Mountain Dew Energy, and RockStar are just a few of them.
Energy drinks aren’t coffee or tea, nor are they just fruit juice or soda: they are non-alcoholic beverages with an added kick of stimulant in the form of caffeine, B Vitamins, taurine, guarana, ginseng, gingko biloba, maltodextrin, and many other chemicals that purportedly provide the “energy” boost promoted by the particular food product.
Shockingly High Amounts of Caffeine in Energy Drinks Gives Them Their Power
For the most part, these energy drinks are spiked with high levels of caffeine in various forms. Consumer Reports studied energy drinks last fall and found a range of caffeine percentages in these drinks; in their study, the two highest in caffeine were 5-Hour Energy (242mg) and RockStar Energy Shot (229mg) and the lowest were 5 Hour Energy Decaf (6 mg) and FRS Healthy Energy (17 mg).
The dangers of these energy drinks are still not fully known; however, a report released earlier this year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveals that the number of people needing ER help in Emergency Rooms across the country after ingesting an energy drink has DOUBLED in the past few years. (Read the government report on ER Visits and Energy Drinks here.)
And recently, the City of San Francisco sued one energy drink manufacturer for marketing its energy drink products to minor children.
April 2013: FDA Issues Warning to Consumers Regarding Foods Containing DMAA
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning concerning an ingredient in many energy drinks: DMAA, or dimethylamylamine, is found in many energy drinks marketed for those seeking to boost their performance in sporting events or athletic performance.
The ingredient, DMAA, is most commonly used in supplements promising weight loss, muscle building and performance enhancement; it can elevate blood pressure and could lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, shortness of breath and tightening of the chest. Given the known biological activity of DMAA, the ingredient may be particularly dangerous when used with caffeine.
As of April 11, 2013, FDA had received 86 reports of illnesses and death associated with supplements containing DMAA. The majority are voluntary reports from consumers and healthcare practitioners. The illnesses reported include heart problems and nervous system or psychiatric disorders. Note, however, that a report is not proof that the product actually caused the problem.
FDA has warned companies known to be using DMAA in dietary supplements that those products containing this ingredient are illegal. Such warnings offer the quickest way at FDA’s disposal to halt the further distribution of dietary supplements containing DMAA in the marketplace. In fact, all but one of the companies sent a Warning Letter have agreed to stop using DMAA as an ingredient in their dietary supplements. The one company that has yet to agree to such action, USPLabs, has responded to FDA’s warning by submitting published studies that purport to challenge FDA’s conclusions.
According to the Food and Drug Administration website, the following ingredients as listed on the product’s supplemental facts label are all warnings of DMAA in the product:
- 4-methyl- (9CI)
- Some products also will list Pelargonium graveolens extract or Geranium extract, which may indicate that the product contains DMAA.
Food Safety and Energy Drinks: Regulation of Energy Drinks in USA: Wrongful Death Lawsuits Moving Forward
Right now, Congress has been looking into regulating energy drinks and a report has been completed by several Congressmen which brings federal legislation of energy drinks in this country one step closer to reality. However, right now these beverages are still free to buy in grocery stores, convenience marts, and gas stations all over the nation.
The problem is: people are dying after drinking energy drinks and regulation hasn’t stopped these tragedies. Parents and loved ones of innocent victims of these food products have been filing wrongful death lawsuits in state courts all over the United States, seeking whatever justice can be found in a courtroom after the loss of a life in a tragedy like this.
Last fall, for example, the New York Times reported on five lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of Monster energy drink. A class action lawsuit has been filed in Canada against the makers of Red Bull, Full Throttle, Monster, Jolt, Amp and Rockstar.
Bottom line: Until either the FDA or Congress acts — or Florida state authorities do something — it appears that filing a lawsuit seeking justice for harm done by energy drinks is the only form of action being taken to stop these dangerous food products from continuing to be readily available on store shelves to an unsuspecting, trusting public.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been affected by a wrongful death caused by energy drinks, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- Energy Drinks Known to Be Dangerous for Children, Teenagers, and Young Adults: Why Are They Still Being Sold – and Are You or a Loved One at Serious Risk of Energy Drink Harm?
- Florida Wrongful Death Law as Justice for Crime Victims: the $44,000,000 Verdict in Yolanda Cerillo Case as an Example of Civil Lawsuits Helping Crime Victims
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.