March 29, 2013
Monster Energy Makes News Again
In recent months, I have written about caffeine consumption twice (click here and here to see those). Caffeine is in the news again in recent weeks with Monster Energy drinks. As CNN reports, the Monster Energy drink makers will be changing its labels so that they add two things:
- Instead of calling it a dietary supplement, Monster Energy will now be called simply beverages.
- The company will add the caffeine content of each can to the nutritional facts.
Let me start with the latter. This is definitely a good choice, in my humbled opinion. As I wrote in my blog about caffeinated gum, food and drink companies do not have to include the amount of caffeine in their nutritional labels. I think this would help people to know how much caffeine they are drinking with each beverage they consume, which would in turn help them to drink healthier and know exactly what they are putting in their body.
The nutritional facts are posted to help consumers understand and control their health choices. We can watch our calorie, fat, and sodium intake simply by logging those numbers for what we eat. We can also check how much protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals we consumer in our daily diets. It only makes sense that we be able to watch how much caffeine we eat and drink.
Moreover, I am interested to know how much synthetic caffeine (which companies add to their drinks, like Monster Energy does) is in these drinks. When I drink coffee or tea, I expect caffeine because it naturally is a part of those. However, when I drink soda or an energy drink (I actually do not drink energy drinks, but let’s pretend for the sake of the article.), I am ingesting unnatural caffeine because the companies add it to their products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food additives, and caffeine in Monster Energy would definitely fall under that category. To know how much of the unnatural caffeine I drink will greatly help me to decide what to drink and what to avoid and how to take in caffeine.
All in all, adding the caffeine content to the label is a good thing.
However, changing the name of the product from dietary supplement to beverage is a bit suspicious. See, the FDA requires that any distributor of a dietary supplement report adverse events linked to its product to the FDA; however, it does not require products sold as food or beverages to do so. An adverse event does not mean that the product is responsible for a situation or that it contributed to any health issue. It simply means a connection or link was made to the dietary product.
Monster Energy drink has been in the news for the case about the 14-year-old girl who died from cardiac arrest. She drank two 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks in 24 hours, so the cause of death was stated as “’ cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity in the presence of a heart condition,” as explained in a redOrbit article about the case against Monster Energy. This would be an adverse event.
If it changes its product classification from dietary supplement to beverage, then it does not have to report that to the FDA. Perhaps that is not why the company is choosing to make this change, but it is awfully suspicious under the circumstances. Now, I am not trying to imply that Monster Energy is in fact an evil monster trying to hurt people; however, I cannot help but wonder about this decision.
Kudos to Monster Energy for adding more information about the caffeine amounts in its products, but I am not so sure about their name change decision. Changes like this make me wonder about the agenda behind them. I guess only time will tell.