San Francisco’s city attorney has announced a lawsuit against Monster Beverage Inc. for its marketing of energy drinks to children, saying the products pose serious health risks.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera called Monster the “industry’s worst offender” in targeting children and adolescents in their marketing of caffeinated energy drinks, the Associated Press (AP) said, reportedly targeting children as young as six to be part of the “Monster Army.” The city’s lawsuit came a week after Monster sued Herrera over the city’s demands that the company reduce the caffeine in its drinks and stop marketing to minors. Herrera said the city’s suit is not a reaction to Monster’s lawsuit. The city was preparing to take this action if the two sides could not reach an agreement, the AP writes.
Energy drinks, including Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, and Amp, have fallen under increased scrutiny. A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said that emergency room visits for symptoms related to energy drink consumption doubled to 20,783 in 2011 from 10,068 in 2007, according to The New York Times. In March, a group of doctors, researchers, and public health experts wrote to FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg urging the agency to take action on caffeine in energy drinks, expressing particular concern about what constitutes a safe level of caffeine for children and adolescents.
New York’s attorney general has subpoenaed energy drink makers, including Monster, about how the drinks are made and marketed. U.S. senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have repeatedly called on the FDA to look into the safety of the drinks for children, the AP said.
The family of a 14-year-old Maryland girl has sued Monster, the AP reports, saying she died after consuming two 24-ounce cans of Monster. Monster said there is not proof that her death was the result of caffeine toxicity. The company maintains its drinks are safe and notes the warning on the can saying the drinks are not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, or people sensitive to caffeine, the AP said. Herrera counters that, despite its own warning, Monster markets aggressively to children, including through sponsorship of youth sports tournaments.
In a statement on Monday, Monster said that the issues raised by Herrera are matters that fall under the regulatory authority of the FDA, the AP writes.