Deaths tied to 5-hour Energy under investigation
By USA Today
Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 6:38 p.m.
The Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday that it is investigating 13 reports of deaths and 33 hospitalizations linked to 5-hour Energy, the highly caffeinated shots that are often sold in convenience stores.
The news emerges a month since Monster Energy drinks were linked to five deaths in FDA's adverse-event reports.
Energy shots come with a “higher risk of health problems,” says Amelia Arria, a University of Maryland public health epidemiologist who has written several energy-drink studies.
“The caffeine concentration is a lot higher because the volume of the liquid is lower,” Arria said. “Concentration is the issue, really.”
The FDA does not regulate caffeine in energy drinks, which can be marketed as dietary supplements. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he is concerned about natural ingredients that also act as stimulants in the drinks. Experts say this combination can be risky for people with undiagnosed heart conditions.
Soft drinks, on the other hand, are regulated and can have no more than 71.5 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce serving.
Because they don't know how much caffeine is in energy drinks, “consumers may be at risk for caffeine toxicity,” said Laura Juliano, an American University associate professor of psychology who is an expert on cognitive and behavioral mechanisms that influence caffeine.
Symptoms of caffeine toxicity, which is also called caffeine intoxication, range from nervousness to cardiac arrhythmia. There have also been reports of seizures, psychotic symptoms and death from energy drinks, Juliano says.
Even when energy-drink companies do list the amount of caffeine, testing by Consumer Reports magazine found that many drinks contain more caffeine than is listed on their labels, says health editor Gayle Williams. Five of the drinks they tested had “an amount of caffeine more than 20 percent above what was on the label,” she says.
“We tell people ‘read the label,' but if the labels are inaccurate, that's really not helping you,” Williams said. “It's very difficult to recommend these because people don't necessarily know what they're getting. And in some cases not knowing what you're getting can be potentially fatal.”
Consumer Reports says 5-hour Energy has 212 milligrams of caffeine, though the drink does not list the amount of caffeine it contains. For comparison, an 8-ounce cup of coffee typically contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine. A 16-ounce Starbucks Grande contains 330 milligrams.
Monster Beverage doesn't list the amount of caffeine in its products. The company told Consumer Reports that's because there are no laws or business regulations requiring them to and that the numbers wouldn't matter to most consumers anyway because their products are safe.
The existence of an adverse-event report “does not necessarily mean that the product identified in the report actually caused the adverse event,” the FDA said in a statement. “If we find a relationship between consumption of the product and harm, the FDA will take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate the risk.”
FDA cautioned consumers they should consult with their doctors before drinking energy drinks “to ensure that there are no underlying or undiagnosed medical conditions that could worsen as a result of using them.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sandy Hook 911 calls fuel sensitivity debate
- Rockwell smashes record for American art auctions
- Young Americans sour on Obama
- Rockwell smashes record for American art
- 2 million Facebook, Twitter, Google passwords pilfered
- Fatal mishap behind them, skydivers return to air
- Don’t give up on health care law, Obama urges young activists
- Bashir resigns over comments about Palin
- NYC train car lacked safety alert, source says
- Arctic front blasts deep into U.S., will shift east
- Ohio monitors deer for health, safety