Health News: US Senator Dick Durbin Calls for FDA Investigation of Energy Drinks

After the death of Anais Fournier, a 14 year-old-girl who consumed two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks in a 24-hour period, US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) calls for an investigation into energy drinks such as Monster Energy, Rockstar, and Red Bull, which contain high levels of caffeine and potentially dangerous ingredients, yet are still marketed to young people.

“Consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death. Young people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine, and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination,” wrote Durbin. “The glossy marketing tailored to youth has worked—30 to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks.”

According to a recent NBC news report, after drinking two energy drinks—which together contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, five times the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics—Fournier went into cardiac arrest and died from cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.

Most energy drinks avoid FDA oversight by being marketed as dietary supplements as the distinction between dietary supplements and foods with dietary ingredient additives is not always clear, leaving room for some food and beverages to be marketed as dietary supplements in order to circumvent the safety standards required for food additives.