HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- The highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink
has been cited in five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack, according
to reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating.
reports claim that people had adverse reactions after they consumed
Monster Energy Drink, which comes in 24-ounce cans and contains 240
milligrams of caffeine, or seven times the amount of the caffeine in a
Although the FDA is investigating the allegations,
which date back to 2004, the agency said the reports don't necessarily
prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries.
"As with any
reports of a death or injury the agency receives, we take them very
seriously and investigate diligently," Shelly Burgess, a FDA
spokeswoman, said in a statement.
News of the FDA's investigation
follows a filing last week of a wrongful death suit in Riverside,
Calif., by the parents of a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking
two, 24-ounce Monster Energy Drinks in 24 hours. An autopsy concluded
that she died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity and the
medical examiner also found that she had an inherited disorder that can
weaken blood vessels. But the child's parents claim Monster failed to
warn about the risks of drinking its products.
Corp., which touts on its web site that the Monster Energy Drink is a
"killer energy brew" and "the meanest energy supplement on the planet,"
puts labels on cans that state that the drinks are not recommended for
children and people who are sensitive to caffeine. The company, based in
Corona, Calif., did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on
Monday, but said last week that it is "unaware of any fatality anywhere
that has been caused by its drinks."
Monster is among a growing
group of energy drinks on the market. Energy drinks are a tiny part of
the carbonated soft drink market, representing about 3 percent of sales
volume, according to a recent report by industry tracker Beverage
Digest. But at a time when soda consumption is declining, energy drinks
are becoming more popular: Last year, sales volume for energy drinks
rose by nearly 17 percent.
Monster has benefited the most from the
increase. Last year, Monster had a 35 percent share of the energy-drink
market based on volume, while Red Bull had 30 percent and Rockstar had
19 percent, according to Beverage Digest. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are far
smaller players in the arena, with about 5 percent each.
have warmed up to the drinks as well. In the past two years, Monster's
shares have more than tripled, from about $22 and hit a high of about
$79 in June. But on news of the FDA investigation, Monster's shares
plunged $7.59, or 14.2 percent, to close at $45.73 in trading on Monday.
increase in popularity has brought heightened scrutiny. The levels of
caffeine in the drinks have raised worries: Although the FDA caps the
amount of caffeine in soda to 0.02 percent, there is no such limit for
In August, New York state Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman issued subpoenas to energy drink makers, including Monster,
as part of the state's investigation of the industry. And in September,
Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked
the FDA to take another look at the effect that caffeine and other
ingredients in energy drinks have on children and adolescents.