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Energy drinks probed after deaths

23rd October 2012

Energy drinks produced by a US corporation are being investigated following a number of deaths linked to them since 2009.

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Five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack are currently being analysed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

From 2005 to 2009, the number of emergency hospital visits relating to the consumption of energy drinks has increased dramatically in the US.

Federal health officials are investigating the reports, but have not yet confirmed which company manufactured the drinks linked to the deaths.

However, the drinks are believed to be manufactured by Monster Energy Company, which sells drinks via 70 companies around the world.

A California couple whose daughter died after drinking Monster recently sued the company. Their daughter, Anais Fournier, had consumed two such drinks in the same 24-hour period.

Shortly after consuming the second drink, the young girl fell unconscious, and was taken to hospital, where doctors were unable to revive her from cardiac arrest. The autopsy revealed the girl died due to excessive palpitations.

When a public records request was filed, the details around her death became public. The ensuing scare caused a sell-off in the Monster's stock.

However, a company spokesman for Monster said he was unaware of any deaths related to the consumption of his company's products.

So-called energy drinks are usually highly caffeinated and may include other compounds known to stimulate the heart. They are usually marketed toward students and young people as a way to boost performance.

The drinks may even be marketed as being capable of boosting a person's overall health.

One can of Monster contains the equivalent of five cups of coffee.

Monster has led the sector with its beverages, with the highest profits of any energy drink producing company.

The FDA has the authority to regulate these drinks, and indeed they have already set limitations on the amount of caffeine which one fizzy drink may contain.

But so-called energy drinks have bypassed this particular piece of regulation by means of a loophole that has them sold as dietary supplements, although they are sold alongside fizzy drinks in shops.

The FDA has previously been unable to decide how to handle energy drinks.

But with the death of Anais Fournier, the agency is now reconsidering its attitude toward energy drinks. Excessive caffeine intake can cause behavioural and cardiovascular issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against adolescents consuming more than 100 mg of caffeine daily.

Anais Fournier's parents say that energy drinks do not contain enough warnings about their possible side-effects.

Scientists also do not know whether or not the combined effect of the various other compounds contained in energy drinks may be responsible for health risks.

In addition to massive amounts of caffeine, energy drinks frequently contain ginseng, guarana, and taurine.

The effect of these molecules upon the body is not yet well understood. The Fournier family has said they want to make sure that the same thing never happens to another family.


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