A major energy drink company (Monster) is facing more
lawsuits in the US following the death of another person
allegedly after consuming highly caffeinated energy drink.
The latest case involves the death of a 14 year old girl who
died of cardiac arrest allegedly after drinking two cans within
The Monster drinks company involved maintain that their
products are safe to drink (when consumed in moderation),
and assert the lawsuits lack merit.
However, this article is not about Monster, it is about the
safety of energy drinks, which have become so popular and
prevalent these days, particularly with youngsters.
What struck me about this case is the lack of agreement from the opposing experts on what should be clear cut for us. For example, if a drink is freely available for the general public to buy (e.g. on the shelves in supermarkets & convenience shops) it should be safe when consumed in accordance with any instructions per the product label, including some foreseeable mis-use.
If the product is not suitable for young people it should be subject to controlled access e.g. like alcohol only allowed to be sold to adults, and if a proven “low-dose” poison it should not be sold at all, or only by prescription.
Therefore, wrongful death lawsuits against one of the world’s top energy drink companies is confusing, as tens of millions of people have safely consumed energy drinks and many to a greater degree than asserted in the recent legal cases. So how can this drink now be unsafe?
Dr Sandman, a US risk communication specialist and author, says nothing scares and confuses the community more than disagreement between experts, because if they don’t know and can’t agree on the facts then we, the public, can’t possibly work out the correct answer.
Safe Levels of Caffeine
Caffeine has been comprehensively studied as a food and drink ingredient over many years, and has been consumed by humans for centuries.
Most health authorities and studies suggest up to 400mg of caffeine per day is safe for healthy adults in the general population.
Human Variation “Bell-Curve”
So what is the “general population” and how can some individuals suffer serious adverse effects, or even die, whilst the vast majority of people can safely consume a particular product?
The graph above shows the normal “bell-curve” variation of almost every human trait including, but not limited to; height, weight, intelligence, athletic prowess, driving skills and tolerance or intolerance to specific substances.