Are energy drinks bad for you? Morgan & Morgan, an Orlando-based law firm, certainly answered that question with a resounding yes earlier this year, when they filed more than a dozen lawsuits and held a press conference, claiming that the stuff could basically kill you. The cases alleged that drinking Monster Energy Drinks could lead to heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure. Now they've suddenly dropped the lawsuits voluntarily.
Monster's legal team seems to believe the nail in the coffin for the rash of lawsuits filed by the Orlando firm was a study conducted by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and published in March. The randomized, double-blind, peer-reviewed study looked at 15 adult subjects and compared the effects on heart rate and blood pressure of consuming 16 ounces of Monster energy drink, 24 ounces of the same drink, a cup of Starbucks, or some water.
Bottom line? "No difference between beverages." Furthermore, "acute consumption of these commonly consumed beverages has no negative effect on cardiac QTc interval." In the end, the study found that consuming Monster Energy Drink was pretty much the same as drinking coffee or even water, at least when it comes down to cardiac effects.
MUNCHIES reached out to Monster, and their representative told us, "The study showed that consumption of energy drinks does not affect heart function or blood pressure in a more significant way than consuming coffee or water. This study confirms Monster Energy's long-held position that its energy drinks have always been and continue to be safe."
Morgan & Morgan didn't respond to requests for comment by Food Safety News, but Monster's lawyers told us this: "The voluntary dismissal of these lawsuits is further evidence that there is no causal connection between the consumption of Monster Energy drinks and injury or illness." Marc P. Miles of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, who is counsel for Monster Energy Company, continued, "There is a lot of misinformation in the public about energy drinks. Once the substantial body of scientific evidence is reviewed, the safety of Monster Energy drinks becomes readily apparent."
In fact, Monster Energy drinks don't have all that much caffeine—at least by Starbucks' standards. A 12-ounce Monster Energy drink has 160 mg of caffeine. A tall Starbucks has 260. The FDA says adults can consume 400 mg of caffeine per day without health problems.
Monster's legal problems may not have all come to an end here, though. The company recently lost a round in a lawsuit brought by the San Francisco City Attorney. That suit alleges that Monster violated state law by targeting children as young as six-years-old in its marketing. It claims that pediatric studies show the drink "may lead to significant morbidity in adolescents." A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision to dismiss a tactical lawsuit brought by Monster against the San Francisco City Attorney—so the consumer lawsuit will continue. The San Francisco City Attorney wants Monster to provide warnings on their labels and to stop advertising to children.
If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear all the totally wicked xtreme gamers and BMXers rejoicing with the frothing passion of a thousand unleashed monsters.