In response to increasing federal scrutiny of highly caffeinated energy drinks, Monster Beverage Corp. has opted to change its official classification from “dietary supplement” to traditional beverage, CBS News reports.
Currently, energy drink manufacturers have the option of choosing either designation. Manufacturers who go with the dietary supplement classification don’t have to list the caffeine amounts, and have more leeway when it comes to adding other ingredients.
However, dietary supplement manufacturers are required to report incidents of adverse effects to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but food makers are not.
On October 2012, the FDA investigated at least five deaths and one heart attack linked to Monster Energy Drinks dating back to 2004.
That announcement came in the wake of a wrongful death suit filed by the parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who died of a cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity after drinking two 24-ounce Monster drinks in 24 hours.
And November 2012, the agency announced the investigation of a another drink called 5-hour Energy, after it was linked to 92 side effect reports including 33 hospitalizations and 13 deaths.
CBS News cites a study recently released in Pediatrics In Review, which emphasized that energy drinks can cause insomnia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and obesity, among other issues which can be exacerbated if the drinks are combined with alcohol.
The report says the FDA is still working out the final rules for what constitutes a supplement, rather than a traditional beverage.
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