The Food and Drug Administration confirmed this week that reports may link 13 deaths to the caffeinated drink 5-hour Energy over the past four years.
The energy shot is also mentioned in over 90 FDA filings, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening events such as heart attacks and convulsions.
However, this is not the first time energy drinks have been in the spotlight for their adverse health effects. Earlier this month, the FDA also confirmed reports that Monster Energy drink was linked to five deaths, including the death of a Maryland teenager who died from allegedly drinking cans of the energy drink on two consecutive days. An autopsy revealed the teenager died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity that exacerbated an existing heart condition.
Two years ago college students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning after drinking the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. The maker of Four Loko later removed the caffeine from its drinks, with the original formula banned in the United States.
Monster said it does not believe its energy drink was responsible for the teenager's death. The company that distributes 5-hour Energy also released a statement that said it was unaware of any deaths proven to be caused by the consumption of their energy drink.
Energy drinks are the fastest-growing type of soft drink in the United States, with sales expected to exceed $10 billion in 2012.
In recent months, Congress has been calling for stricter regulation of the energy product industry, such as more extensive labeling or age restrictions. Under current FDA rules, companies are not required to disclose caffeine levels in their beverages and can market them as drinks or dietary supplements.
In 2009, more than 13,000 emergency room visits were associated with energy drinks alone.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "U.S probes deaths for links to Monster energy drink," Oct. 23, 2012.
Huffington Post, "Energy Drink Deaths: 5-hour Energy Reported As Possible Factor In 13 Deaths, FDA Reports," Nov. 14, 2012.