Prime Energy Sports Drink Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Caffeine Levels, PFAS Exposure

Lawsuits highlights growing concerns over side effects of Prime and other energy drink products, due to inaccurate representations about the ingredients, such as caffeine and potentially toxic chemicals.

The makers of Prime Energy drinks face a class action lawsuit alleging that the products contain an excessive amount of caffeine and potentially toxic chemicals, amid growing concerns over ingredients in the popular energy sports drinks.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Lara Vera last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and is at least the second class action lawsuit filed against Prime Hydration LLC over the last year. An earlier claim filed last summer also alleged that Prime Energy drinks contain high amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), more commonly known as “forever chemicals.”

Although most consumers believe energy drinks to be safe due to information on the nutrition labels, the drinks are not tightly regulated in the U.S. because they are considered dietary supplements. Many manufacturers do not even disclose the ingredients or levels of caffeine contained in each bottle.

High levels of caffeine have been linked to irregular heartbeats in some consumers, resulting in increased blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, fainting, seizures and sudden death, particularly in younger consumers. In March 2016, the American Heart Association indicated that the overuse of energy drinks could cause increased heart problems including heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and other potentially life-threatening complications.

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While Prime Energy’s label does indicates that it contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of six cans of Coca Cola or two cans of Red Bull, Vera’s lawsuit indicates the actual amount of caffeine can vary, up to 225 milligrams of caffeine.

Vera’s Prime Energy lawsuit indicates she relied on the labeling and advertising, which she claims was a misrepresentation of the amount of caffeine and safety of the drinks. The lawsuit alleges she and other consumers paid a premium price for the energy drinks and would not have purchased Prime Energy if they had known its ingredient labels were inaccurate.

The lawsuit notes that the label inaccuracies make Prime Energy drinks misbranded under federal and state laws.

“Defendant intended for Plaintiff and the Class members to be misled,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant’s misleading and deceptive practices proximately caused harm to Plaintiff and the Class.”

The lawsuit follows a recent move by Canadian health officials to require energy drink recalls for several popular products, including Prime Energy, 5-Hour Energy and others. In July 2023, regulators in that country indicated the products violated Canadian law, which sets caffeine limits at 180 milligrams.

The warning indicated it was illegal to sell, serve or distribute Prime Energy and the other affected brands in Canada.

That same month, U.S. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch an investigation into Prime Energy, due to the high levels of caffeine detected. The FDA has not indicated it has launched such an investigation.

The drinks are not recommended for children under 18 years old, but have been released in youth-friendly flavors and promoted by social media influencers like Logan Paul and KSI, which has helped make the drinks extremely popular and even hard to keep on store shelves in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Despite the potential risks, Prime Energy is now the official sports drink of several popular sports teams, like the Los Angeles Dodgers, increasing its visibility.

Prime Energy PFAS Exposure Lawsuit

In early August 2023, Elizabeth Castillo, of California, filed a separate Prime Energy lawsuit against Prime Hydration, indicating laboratory testing had revealed the presence of PFAS in the drinks, which have been linked to numerous health concerns. That lawsuit also seeks class action status for consumers who purchased the energy drinks.

PFAS include a group of over 9,000 man-made substances, which are widely used to resist grease, oil and water. However, they are known to persist for decades, and researchers have identified a myriad of adverse health effects linked to the chemicals, including testicular cancer, kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis and other side effects.

Most of the PFAS health concerns have stemmed from water contamination problems, caused by the large volumes of the chemicals in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which have been used by the military and firefighters for decades to fight fuel-based fires. During training and response exercises, these PFAS chemicals have been dumped into the environment and local water supplies, particularly around military bases, airports and firefighter training locations, causing many communities to have dangerous levels of the chemicals in their drinking water.

3M Company, DuPont, Chemguard, Inc., Tyco Fire Products and other manufacturers of chemicals and fire safety products now face thousands of PFAS water contamination lawsuits brought by local water providers and individuals diagnosed with various types of cancer. The companies also face hundreds of firefighter cancer lawsuits over exposure to AFFF, and evidence uncovered during litigation has further heightened concerns about the long-term risks associated with use of the chemicals.

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