Serious Injury and Fatalities Attributed to Energy Drinks
Energy drinks have become so popular that they now fill entire commercial refrigeration units in supermarkets and convenience stores. These drinks are marketed as a means to promote alertness and energy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently received reports of thirteen fatalities allegedly related to the energy drink marketed under the name “Five Hour Energy.”
Because the FDA investigation is currently ongoing, it is not clear what role the energy drinks played in the reported deaths.
There are multiple theories regarding the link between these energy drinks and potential adverse health effects. Some have suggested that high quantities of caffeine in the beverages pose a risk of physical harm while others blame ingredients that are not subject to regulation because they are considered “dietary supplements.” The energy drinks do not specify the amount of caffeine in the beverages. As of this date, there have been almost a hundred reports of adverse effects attributed to the Five Hour Energy drink.
If the drink is unsafe because of a defect that makes it hazardous, the manufacturer may be liable for injuries or wrongful deaths caused by the beverage. Investigations are underway to determine whether the manufacturer of the energy drink was aware of prior reports of adverse effects, as well as the etiology of any such harmful effects caused by the energy boost product.
Although extensive recalls are implemented for many consumer products with far fewer reports of adverse effects and fatalities, the FDA regulates dietary supplements under different standards than conventional food and drugs. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), manufacturers of these substances generally do not need to obtain FDA approval or register dietary supplements with the FDA. However, the manufacturer must provide labeling that is neither misleading nor false. The manufacturer also is responsible for assuring the product is safe before it is made available to consumers.
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