Caffeine Jitters: Energy Drink Panic

By Sullum, Jacob | Reason, February 2013 | Go to article overview

Caffeine Jitters: Energy Drink Panic


Sullum, Jacob, Reason


MONSTER BEVERAGE'S stock price took a hit in October after The New York Times reported that the company's energy drinks had been "cited in deaths." The Times followed up the next day with a story headlined "Safety Becomes a Concern With High-Caffeine Drinks" and three days after that with one arguing that "Reports on Energy Drinks Show Gaps in Safety Policy."

The string of alarming reports, which were echoed by other news outlets, appeared the week after a Maryland couple filed a lawsuit implicating Monster's products in the death of their 14-year-old daughter, Anais Fournier. The stories, based on "adverse event" reports that the couple's lawyer obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), exaggerated the risks associated with energy drinks by failing to put them in perspective.

Bloomberg News counted 37 reports involving Monster energy drinks, including six fatalities, since 2004--an average of about four a year. By comparison, the FDA receives thousands of such reports about aspirin each year and hundreds about coffee. …

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