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Sen. Durbin Calls For Investigation Of Energy Drinks

By Samantha Abernethy in Food on Apr 4, 2012 10:20PM

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the health effects of energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull. Durbin says the move is a response to the death of a 14-year-old girl in Maryland, who had a heart attack as a result of caffeine toxicity after consuming two energy drinks. It wasn't an isolated incident, either. The Seattle P-I reports there has been a 1,000 percent increase in emergency room visits involving energy drinks since 2005.

From Durbin's letter to the FDA:

Consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death. Young people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine, and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination. The FDA has the authority to regulate caffeine levels in soft drinks to .02 percent or less of the product - about 71mg in a 12oz soda. The agency also has the authority to regulate additives in beverages to ensure they are safe for their intended use and when used in combination with other ingredients.

Durbin specifically called out Monster Energy, Rockstar, Full Throttle and Red Bull in his call for investigation. Durbin also points out that sometimes caffeinated beverages are marketed as dietary supplements. Studies actually show they can be fattening. The caffeine argument usually revolves around its consumption when paired with alcohol. Remember Four Loko? It's surprising to see the caffeine industry alone being taken to task. Durbin's full letter to the FDA can be read on his website.