WASHINGTON -- Federal health authorities are investigating reports of 13 deaths that may be associated with a highly caffeinated energy shot. The Food and Drug Administration has received 92 reports over four years that cite illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consuming 5-Hour Energy.
The New York Times reported last week that 13 deaths were possibly linked to 5-Hour Energy. Last month, the Times reported that Monster Beverage Corp.'s energy drinks have been cited in association with the deaths of five people in the past year. | SEE STORY
Following the recent news about 5-Hour Energy, FDA officials said the agency is cautioning consumers that energy shots and drinks are not alternatives to rest. As with incidents allegedly linked to the Monster product, the agency also stated that the 5-Hour reports do not corroborate that the energy shots cause deaths or injuries. Officials said they would take action if the deaths can be linked to the consumption of energy drinks. Such action could result in forcing companies to take the drinks off the market. The drinks are usually sold at convenience stores and in vending machines.
Elaine Lutz of Michigan-based Living Essentials LLC, the manufacturer of the shots, said 5-Hour Energy is a "compact-sized energy shot intended for busy adults -- it is not an energy drink, nor marketed as a beverage." She added that the company is not aware of any deaths proven to have been caused by their product. The 2-fl.oz. shots were introduced in 2004.
The FDA does not regulate caffeinated drinks or supplements, but it can take action if they are proven to do harm. Makers of caffeinated alcoholic drinks took those products off the market in 2010 after the agency sent the companies warning letters stating that combinations of caffeine and alcohol were a public health concern, leading to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.
Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin (Illinois) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) complained about the lack of FDA oversight of energy drinks last week. "For God's sake, these are on sale to kids throughout America," Durbin said on the Senate floor.