FDA investigates 5 deaths that may be linked to Monster Energy Drink

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PITTSBURGH - The Food and Drug Administration has launched an investigation into reports of five deaths and a heart attack that may be connected to Monster Energy Drink. Consumer Reporter Robin Taylor looks at what's in the drinks that has some parents worried.

A Maryland mother says her 14-year-old daughter died after a severe reaction to drinking two Monster Energy Drinks in a 24-hour period, and now she's suing the manufacturer, saying Monster failed to warn about the product's dangers.

Researchers say Anais Fournier downed as much caffeine as you'd find in 14 cans of soda. The cause of her death was listed as cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.

While Fournier had a common heart defect, where one of the valves doesn't work well, she had regular checkups and was given no restrictions by her doctor.

Her mother, Wendy Crossland, says this is a dangerous combination others need to know about.

"We just need to get the word out there, so this never happens to anyone else," said Crossland.

Before filing a wrongful death lawsuit last week, the family went through FDA reports and found four other deaths in the past year alone among people who drank Monster.

But energy drinks, like Monster, are not regulated by the FDA because they are considered a dietary supplement, not a food.

"I think the FDA should require these drinks to indicate how much caffeine is in them," said Dr. Srinivas Murali, a cardiologist with Allegheny General Hospital.

Murali says too much caffeine, consumed too quickly, can affect the electrical activity of the heart.

"In a child, a large volume of caffeine or a large dosage of caffeine, is more likely to cause cardiac arrhythmia than it would in an adult," said Murali.

Monster says its sympathies go out to the family, but it insists its drinks were not responsible. The company says it is unaware of any deaths caused by its energy drinks.