Do energy drinks need warning labels? Teen’s death linked to Monster

The maker of energy drink Monster Energy are being sued by the family of a teenager who died from heart complications after consuming two cans of the product.

US teenager Anais Fournier, 14, consumed two of the energy drinks in two days and died less than a week later from heart arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity that complicated a diagnosed heart disorder.

The family argues that there was not sufficient warning about the impacts of consuming the drinks, which are particularly dangerous in large volumes or even in small amounts for those with pre-existing heart conditions.

The company has denied the drink was responsible for the teenager’s death but the US Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating five other deaths linked to Monster Energy.

Energy drinks including Mother, Red Bull, V and Monster, which have more than triple the amount of caffeine as standard cola, in addition to guarana, have been the subject of much debate over the last few years.

Early this year a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found the number of people reporting heart problems, tremors and chest pains from drinking the beverages has increased dramatically and the poisons helpline received 65 calls in one year from people concerned about their consumption of energy drinks.

As the highest consumers of caffeinated energy drinks, teenagers experience the reactions most frequently and the authors of the study say the findings are a “warning call” for people who drink the beverages.

More than half the reported cases were teenage males.

The study lead to Australian medical experts calling for mandatory warning labels on all high-energy drinks and this year a working group was established to review the guidelines surrounding the addition of caffeine to food.

"The review of the policy guideline on caffeine has been and will continue to consider global developments in information relating to caffeinated products, including energy drinks, and regulatory approaches being taken in similar countries,"  a Department of Health and Ageing spokesperson said in a statement.

The working group's paper will be made available for public comment early 2013.

Do you think energy drinks need warning labels? Should there be an age restriction on them similar to alcohol?

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