Energy drinks are marketed in Illinois as a healthy way to boost energy and metabolism for better physical and mental performance. However, scientists and medical professionals warn that consuming them may not be as safe as the advertising suggests, prompting questions of product liability on the part of the manufacturer. An increasing number of emergency room visits, permanent disabilities and fatalities have prompted investigations by federal health officials and members of the medical community.
The dangers of caffeine
Manufacturers of energy drinks claim the amount of caffeine in one drink is lower than what is contained in one cup of coffee. Many people may not be aware of the limits recommended for safety, though. According to Consumer Reports, a healthy adult should not consume more than 400 milligrams each day. The limit for pregnant women is 200 milligrams, and 45 to 85 milligrams for children. Doses higher than this can cause many unhealthy reactions, including the following:
- Heart problems
Even when the caffeine listed on the container is below a safe level, manufacturers are only required to report the total amount of caffeine added to the drink. This does not include the amount occurring naturally in other ingredients, such as guarana, which is a stimulant herb.
A government study of emergency room visits attributed to energy drink consumption reported that many of the victims exhibited symptoms typical of a caffeine overdose, which can have fatal results. For example, a 33-year-old Brooklyn man drank one Red Bull energy drink and then died of heart failure while playing basketball 45 minutes later. In another case, a 14-year-old girl reportedly consumed two Monster drinks in 24 hours and died of cardiac arrhythmia. These wrongful death cases have prompted lawsuits against the beverage companies.
Unregulated ingredients may increase dangers
In addition to dangerous doses of caffeine, energy drinks contain large amounts of sugar. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, many include more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving, which is the same amount in a typical serving of cola. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day for women and nine per day for men.
Other common ingredients include taurine, creatine, vitamins and herbal supplements. Rather than launching a formal investigation, the FDA has issued guidances for the industry to clarify whether beverages should be classified as a liquid dietary supplement instead of a food or a drug. The supplements industry does not require FDA approval to produce or sell dietary supplements, and the lack of regulation may lead to defective products.
A person who experiences adverse reactions due to an energy drink may benefit from the legal advice of a Chicago personal injury attorney. Compensation may be available to help with costs associated with medical issues and disabilities.