Energy drinks promise an instant bolt of energy, primarily from a blend of caffeine and other ingredients that can vary in intensity depending upon the formulations used. While caffeine is hardly an unknown and unstudied substance (found, as it is in many soft drinks, tea and coffee), its concentration in energy drinks has worried health professionals for some time. Many drinks - including many of the Monster drink contents - have caffeine levels far higher than coffee and soft drinks. Even for those beverages formulated with caffeine levels in similar quantities to that found in a typical cup of strong coffee, health advocates make the point that coffee is served hot and is meant to be sipped. Thus, the intake is gradual.
Many fans of energy drinks tend to guzzle the contents, thus accentuating the monster caffeine levels by way of more rapid ingestion.
For some, this can and has proven to be a health hazard. In the case of Alex Morris (Paula Morris v. Monster Beverage Corp., Case No RG13685028, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda), set to begin trial next month, the 19-year-old collapsed after drinking a Monster Energy beverage, suffered a heart attack and did not survive.
“The court filing alleges that consuming these drink products over the long term can lead to cardiomyopathy or an enlarged heart, making you more susceptible to acute cardiac events or a cardiac arrhythmia,” said attorney Jacob Karczewski of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm. Karczewski, who represents the Morris family in the Monster Energy Drink injury lawsuit, made the comments to Online Legal Media’s Brenda Craig.
Health advocates remain troubled on many fronts. For one, the lack of any requirement to list ingredients on product labels, given that energy drinks are classed as dietary supplements and therefore do not fall under the normal requirements under the auspices of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for labeling. Thus, the undertakings of a manufacturer in the listing of all ingredients, and amounts on product labels, is strictly voluntary. Even were a manufacturer to list ingredients, not divulging the amounts, percentages or formulation, is of no help to a consumer attempting to know convincingly what he or she is ingesting. Caffeine levels in energy drinks - including monster caffeine levels - can be many, many times higher than coffee. Together with other natural stimulants contained in the formulation with which the caffeine reacts in kind, the stimulation to the central nervous system can be, well…monstrous.
Were a university student, for example, to guzzle a couple of energy drinks in rapid succession right before an all-night cramming session, the stimulus hit can be massive - and in some cases, dangerous.
Health advocates also remain concerned that manufacturers are alleged to have marketed these products to children, teens and young adults. In the case of the latter two demographics, teens and young adults tend to think of themselves as somewhat invincible and thereby consume products with little insight or foresight as to the outcome.
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In spite of health concerns, the energy drink market continues to grow and is expected to reach the $21 billion level by 2017.
In the meantime, Monster has another monster headache on its hands: a lawsuit of a different kind. In June, the iconic rap group The Beastie Boys was awarded $1.7 million in a copyright violation case against Monster Beverage Corp. Then, earlier this year, the plaintiffs were back asking for nearly 2.5 million in legal fees.
As visits to emergency rooms from health complications stemming from over-consumption of energy drinks continue to rise, Monster Beverage Corp. and other energy drink manufacturers may have more monster headaches to worry about than copyright…