The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reporting that five people may have died over the past three years from consuming a high-caffeine energy drink called Monster Energy, according to the New York Times.
An FDA spokeswoman said the agency received reports of five deaths possibly linked to the drink, and another report of a heart attack during a period from 2009 to June of this year.
According to the New York Times, the reports don’t purport to prove a link between the energy drink and the deaths. In part, that’s because the reports don’t make clear whether the incidents involved other factors such as alcohol or drugs.
Still, the Times notes that the reports the F.D.A. receives about any product it regulates usually understate by a large degree the actual number of problems.
Wendy Crossland obtained the reports under the Freedom of Information Act.
Crossland’s 14-year-old daughter died in December from a heart arrhythmia after drinking large cans of Monster Energy on two consecutive days. Last week, she filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage, the manufacturer, charging that it failed to warn about the risks.
Under current FDA rules, companies don’t have to disclose caffeine levels in their beverages and can choose to market them as drinks or as dietary supplements. Though healthy adults can consume large quantities of caffeine from sources such as coffee, tea and energy drinks, the drug can pose risks to those with underlying conditions such as heart disorders.
The New York Times reports that the type of 24-ounce can of Monster Energy Crossland’s daughter drank contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, which is three times the amount found in an 8-ounce can of Red Bull and about 50 milligrams more than in the 20-ounce size of Red Bull.
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