Monster's CEO addresses the caffeine issue
"I’m sure that you’re aware that our company as a result of certain litigation, regulatory requests and media reports, has been the subject of discussion recently. I want to take this opportunity to briefly address this. First and foremost, we reiterate that our products are safe. More than 8 billion cans of Monster Energy drinks have been sold and safely consumed in the United States and around the world since 2002. Additionally, 10 of billions of energy drinks manufactured and distributed not only by us, but by other companies, have been sold and safely consumed worldwide for 25 years.
"We believe that consumers are justified based on that long track record in having confidence in the safety of our products. A principal area of attention relates to caffeine. Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation published recently regarding the caffeine content of Monster. So let me give you the facts. Monster energy drinks generally contain approximately 10mg of caffeine per ounce from all sources. By comparison, the leading brands of coffee house brewed coffee, for example Starbucks, contain on average in excess of 20mg of caffeine per ounce. In other words, a 16 ounce can of Monster Energy contains about half the caffeine of a 16 ounce cup of coffeehouse brewed coffee. Even a 24 ounce can of Monster Energy, which contains about 240mg of caffeine from all sources, has about 30% less caffeine than an average medium sized 16 ounce cup of coffeehouse brewed coffee.
"So again our products are just as safe for consumers as a cup of coffee purchased at your favorite coffee house. Even an extra large size single serving of a Mountain Dew fountain drink which is readily available throughout America contains about 234mg of caffeine. In addition, the amount of caffeine per ounce in other major energy drinks on the market is comparable to or higher than the amount in Monster. There is absolutely no basis for singling out Monster in this regard.
"Another area of recent media focus has been on the fact that Monster Energy drinks are labeled as dietary supplements rather than as foods. In the case of Monster Energy drinks, this is a red herring. Our products could be labeled and sold as foods if we chose to do so. As previously indicated, Monster Energy drinks, including their ingredients and labeling, comply fully with all laws and regulations in the United States and in each of the more than 70 countries in which they are sold. All of the ingredients contained in our products at current levels are either FDA approved food additives or are GRAS, which stands for Generally Recognized as Safe and are therefore permissible for inclusion in and labeling as foods,
"As a result, with the Monster Energy drinks are classified as dietary supplements or as a food is a distinction without a difference. Either way, the current ingredients, none of which are secret or hidden, are fully permissible as a food and a supplement. In other words, we are confident that if we chose to do so, we could re-categorize Monster Energy drinks as a food. Apart from minor changes in form, the labels of Monster Energy as a food would be almost precisely the same and contain the same details as currently appear on our cans. In fact, all of our main competitor’s energy drinks with the labeled as foods or supplements, contain similar, if not substantially higher levels of caffeine than do our products.
"Furthermore, from the time Monster was launched more than 10 years ago, the labels on all Monster Energy drinks have expressly stated that the product should be consumed responsibly and are not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine or pregnant women. Finally, there’s also been recent focus on so-called adverse event reports that are filed with the FDA. The FDA itself has stated quite clearly that adverse event reports about a product are not reports issued by the FDA and do not themselves establish any cause or link between a product and the reported event. More specifically, the fact is that the FDA has made it clear that it has not established any cause or link between Monster Energy drinks and any of the handful of events reported in adverse event reports.
"These reports were received by the FDA over an eight year period between 2004 and 2012 so there are no new or sudden issues. The FDA has long been aware of these reports. It was aware of them, including the report relating to the 14 year old girl whose family brought the lawsuit against Monster when the agency stated publicly in August of this year that it monitors the products it regulates, specifically including energy drinks by examining current scientific data, monitoring new ingredients added to products and investigating reports of adverse effects.
"The FDA stated its conclusion that the available evidence and I quote, does not indicate any new previously unknown risks associated with caffeine consumption. In short, there is not a shred of information which cause of links Monster to these adverse events and the Fournier lawsuit is the first the company has received alleging a fatality caused by Monster. Nor are we aware of a single instance anywhere in the world in which Monster Energy drinks have cause anyone’s death.
"While of course we are saddened by the death of the 14 year old girl whose family brought the lawsuit against the company, the allegations in that lawsuit claiming to the contrary are false and totally baseless and are not supported by either the science or the facts. The autopsy report reveals that a caffeine blood level was not performed and that her death was natural and associated with a preexisting heart condition which by itself increased her risk of cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death. We will defend vigorously the lawsuit."