Monster Energy Drink Death Allegations Disputed by Beverage Maker

Monster Beverage Corp. is pushing back against allegations raised in a recent wrongful death lawsuit, which claimed that side effects of the energy drink caused the death of a 14-year-old Maryland girl. 

On March 4, the company issued a press release attacking claims raised by the family of the teenager, who suffered a cardiac arrest after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster within a 24 hour period.

The company indicates that it retained a group of physicians and a coroner to look into the death of Anais Fournier, and that they found no link between her death and Monster energy drinks. The opinion of the company’s paid experts is at odds with the findings of the Maryland Medical Examiner, who claimed the girl died of caffeine toxicity.

Fournier’s family filed a Monster energy drink wrongful death lawsuit against the company late last year, which sparked intense scrutiny on the energy drink industry. Since then, the FDA has indicated that a number of death reports have been linked to energy drinks over the last several years.

Monster’s retained physicians claim Fournier’s medical records indicate that there was never any blood test done to determine Fournier’s caffeine level at the time of death. The company’s attorneys say there was no evidence that Monster Energy drinks had any effect on her death. The group also claims that some studies have shown no link between caffeine toxicity and heart problems. The company also pointed out that Fournier suffered from heart conditions that could have contributed to her death.

Attorneys for the Fournier family dispute the findings of the beverage maker.

Monster, Other Energy Drinks Linked to Illnesses, Deaths

The report comes just a couple weeks after Monster announced it would no longer be classified as a dietary supplement, and instead would be classified as a beverage. For years, the dietary supplement label allowed the company to hide the ingredients of its drinks and to avoid inspections and other food safety regulations by the FDA designed to ensure that food and drinks consumed by the public were safe.

Monster Energy and other competing products, such as Red Bull, Rockstar and 5 Hour Energy, combine high amounts of caffeine with other stimulants, such as guarana and taurine, to increase energy and stamina.  However, concerns have emerged in recent years about the potential risk of energy drink side effects, especially among children and young adults who are typically encouraged to consume large amounts of the beverage.

The FDA has received at least 37 adverse event reports involving Monster drinks since 2004, including at least five deaths reported over the past year and a sixth reported in 2009.

Research has found that caffeine overdose can result in heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias and death after doses ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams, and Monster Energy drinks are aggressively promoted to teens and young adults, who often consume multiple cans in short periods of time to provide a “caffeine buzz” or induced burst of energy. This week, Monster’s lawyers claim that some studies suggest that caffeine is not a danger until much higher amounts are consumed.

Photo Courtesy of stevendepolo / CC by 2.0

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