City Attorney calls letters an ‘important step we can take at the national level,’ while City’s investigation of Monster Energy Drinks’ business practices continues
SAN FRANCISCO (March 19, 2013) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today joined 18 scientists and public health professionals in urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take prompt regulatory action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks — including requiring manufacturers to publish caffeine content on product labels.
In separate letters to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg this morning, Herrera and scientific experts cite federal law requiring that food additives like caffeine be “Generally Recognized As Safe,” or GRAS, for their intended use based on a consensus of scientific opinion. Contradicting manufacturers’ safety claims, the scientists’ letter finds that the caffeine levels in popular energy drinks such as Monster Energy, Rockstar, and Red Bull do not meet the GRAS standard required by federal law because they pose serious risks to public health, especially for young people to whom the products are marketed.
Young consumers of caffeinated energy drinks are particularly vulnerable to the documented health risks cited in the letters, including seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, altered heart rates, elevated blood pressure, sleeplessness, anxiety and childhood obesity. According to FDA data cited in the letter, consumption of Monster Energy has been implicated in the reported deaths of at least five individuals, with 13 additional deaths believed possibly linked to 5-Hour Energy.
“Caffeine-dosed energy drinks will never give you wings — but they may give you deadly health problems, especially if you’re a young person targeted so aggressively by marketers,” said Herrera. “The evidence doesn’t support the manufacturers’ safety claims. To the contrary, nationally renowned experts have found that energy drinks pose serious health risks, which are exacerbated by manufacturers’ marketing tactics to youth. I’m glad to join with respected scientists, academics and public health professionals nationwide in urging the FDA to take steps to protect consumers. This is an important step we can take at the national level, even as my office continues to investigate the business practices of Monster Energy Drinks here in California.”
In November, Herrera invoked California’s tough Unfair Competition Law to demand evidence from the Corona, Calif.-based Monster Beverage Corporation to substantiate its marketing claims that the dosages of caffeine contained in its products are “completely safe” for consumption by adolescents and adults. The City Attorney is continuing his investigation into Monster Energy, which is the largest manufacturer in a growing U.S. energy drink industry projected reach $19.7 billion in sales this year.
Herrera Scientists letter to the FDA re caffeinated drinks (March 19, 2013)