The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reportedly investigating five deaths that allegedly have a link to Monster, the energy drink manufactured by the Monster Beverage Corporation. The investigation was prompted by a lawsuit filed against the company by the parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who charge that the girl died of caffeine toxicity after drinking just two Monster drinks, according to reports by Forbes and other media outlets.
The investigation follows years of protests from health officials over the safety of energy drinks, which are not subject to the same regulations as soda. A 16-ounce Monster drink contains 160 mg of caffeine, according to EnergyFiend, while soda is only allowed to contain 72 mg per 12-ounce can as dictated by the FDA itself.
Here is some of the key information regarding the FDA's investigation into Monster energy drinks.
* Reuters and other media outlets reported on Monday that Monster Beverage Corporation's shares fell 14 percent in trading following the FDA's announcement of its investigation.
* The FDA has been careful to note that as of yet there is no evidence that Monster energy drinks have caused any deaths. A spokeswoman for the agency, Shelly Burgess, said in a statement on Monday that any time the FDA receives "reports of a death or injury" that the agency takes it "very seriously" and investigates "diligently,"as quoted by the Associated Press.
* Burgess confirmed that there have been allegations regarding five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack tied to the beverage. The six reports were all entered into the FDA's voluntary reporting system, which allows consumers to file an "adverse event report" if they suffer health consequences after consuming a product or taking a medication, according to NBC News.
* The first of the six reports was filed in 2004. The FDA launched its investigation after Anais' parents filed their lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp. last week.
* The director of the FDA's dietary supplement division, Daniel Fabricant, told the New York Times on Tuesday that the phrase "energy drink" is "a marketing term." Energy drink manufacturers are allowed to label their products as either beverages or as dietary supplements, a designation that carries far fewer regulations.
* Monster Beverage Corp., for its part, issued a statement on Tuesday stating that while the company is "saddened by the untimely passing of Anais Fournier," it "does not believe that its products are in any way responsible" for her death, and that the company "intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit" brought against it by the girl's parents.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.