Injury Data on Red Bull Posted by the FDA

The U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) just posted information on 21 reports it has received since 2004 regarding the energy drink, Red Bull.

Just days prior, said The New York Times, the maker of the country’s most popular energy drink said it was not aware of any such cases. Some reports received by the agency mentioned hospitalizations for cardiac issues and vomiting. Meanwhile, the maker of Red Bull issued a statement that, “As the FDA stated, ‘the existence of an adverse event report does not necessarily mean that the product identified in the report actually caused the adverse event’.” Red Bull maintains its beverages are safe, said The New York Times.

The FDA recently confirmed or released information on 18 filings involving deaths and over 150 other filings involving injuries that mentioned one of four popular energy drinks: Red Bull, Monster Energy, Rockstar, and 5-Hour Energy, said The New York Times. Yet, a federal report revealed that over 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009 all mentioned an energy drink as a possible cause.

Making matters worse, energy drinks are not regulated, which makes it nearly impossible to both monitor related activity and to release information concerning any related injuries and deaths. In fact, based on FDA records and a prior interview between an agency official and The New York Times, 13 other deaths in the past four years may be related to the 5-Hour Energy drink. Unlike other energy drinks packaged as traditional beverages, the 5-Hour Energy drink is a super-caffeinated, 2-ounce “energy shot.” The New York Times previously noted that, since 2009, 5-Hour Energy was discussed in about 90 FDA filings, including more than 30 reports that involved significant or life-threatening injuries, such as heart attacks and convulsions. A spontaneous abortion was involved one case.

A New York Times review of a summary of agency records revealed that, in October 2012, the FDA received five filings concerning deaths associated with yet, another, energy drink, Monster Energy.

As we’ve explained, energy drinks are considered dietary supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA, as are other consumer food products. Instead, energy drinks are considered dietary supplements because the product labels claim the drinks are created with all-natural ingredients that are exempt from FDA regulations. And, like other dietary supplements on which we’ve written, significant concerns about the safety of these products exist as more and more people report health problems related to their use. Because of the lack of regulation, records on reported problems associated with these products are sparse.

Energy drink labels claim the products do not contain more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee, according to a Washington Post report; however, with no appropriate regulations, there is insufficient available evidence to validate those claims. Also, Energy drinks typically contain other stimulants, such as guarana and taurine, which are additives that claim to be all natural and, like other additives found in supplements, they are not subject to FDA regulation. Again, there is not much credible data to show these products and ingredients are safe for human consumption or, what levels are considered safe.

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