Durbin, Blumenthal Pressure FDA to More Deeply Probe Energy Drinks

October 29, 2012

2 Min Read
Durbin, Blumenthal Pressure FDA to More Deeply Probe Energy Drinks

WASHINGTON In the wake of reports claiming Monster Energy drinks are connected to five deaths, two U.S. senators with the Democratic Party continue to pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to more thoroughly investigate the potential hazards associated with energy drinks.

In an Oct. 26 letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Richard Durbin of Illinois asked the FDA to identify and recommend solutions to perceived weaknesses the lawmakers claim allow energy drink manufacturers to avoid oversight and offer ingredients that haven't been proven safe.

"Once again, we reiterate our request for the FDA to investigate the interactions between caffeine and stimulants in energy drinks, to assess the health risks associated with caffeine consumption by children and adolescents, and to finalize and issue guidance that clearly distinguishes liquid dietary supplements from beverages," Blumenthal and Durbin wrote.

In support of their calls for greater oversight, the senators cited an investigation that raised questions about the amount of caffeine in energy drinks. Measuring the amount of caffeine in the 27 top-selling energy drinks, Consumer Reports found that 11 products don't even list the specific amount of caffeine while some of those that do contain 20 percent more caffeine than that listed on the labels.

The energy drink business has come under greater scrutiny in recent days after the parents of a 14-year-old girl sued Monster Beverage Corp. for wrongful death. Public records also show five deaths allegedly connected to Monster Energy drinks, although the company has denied liability and FDA has made no causal connection at this time.

"We are extremely concerned by reports of five deaths following the consumption of Monster energy drinks and a recent study showing that many energy drinks do not provide caffeine information to consumers," Blumenthal and Durbin said in a statement. "We do not know enough about the effect of caffeine on children and young adults, yet energy drinks are marketed directly to kids without the oversight that beverages like soda face. The FDA needs to do more to investigate the impact of energy drinks and identify the loopholes that allow this deception to continue."

FDA wasn't available to comment Monday on the letter from Durbin and Blumenthal since its office was closed to the public in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, the massive storm expected to make landfall near the New Jersey/Delaware border by the evening.

Durbin and Blumenthal have sent previous letters to the FDA in connection with energy drinks, including one on Sept. 11, 2012. In response this summer to an earlier letter from Durbin, FDA reported that no current data shows a significantly widespread caffeine consumption problem due to energy drinks.

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