A $20 billion dollar industry has come under government scrutiny of late and everyone should pay close attention. Energy drinks. Oh, how Americans love them, especially our youth.  It is also reported that forty-five percent of American soldiers in combat serving in Afghanistan consume them every day, many receiving them for free in military cafeterias. But are they safe? According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the answer is no, and therein lies the dilemma.

Federal official report that 13 deaths have occurred over the past 4 years and statistically, that is significant. Even if only one death occurred it would be significant because it could have been avoided.

Monster Energy and 5-Hour Energy are highly caffeinated energy “shots” that contains approximately 215 milligrams of caffeine and are sold in 2-ounce bottles. An 8-ounce cup of coffee contains anywhere from 100 to 150-milligram so that alone tells us that we have a potential problem.  According to an article written by Barry Meir of the The New York Times, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in approximately 90 filings with the FDA including cases of serious and life-threatening injuries such as heart attacks, seizures and a spontaneous miscarriage.

Energy drinks are considered “dietary” supplements, thus escaping the scrutiny of the FDA who states that it “does not have sufficient scientific evidence to justify changing how it regulates caffeine or other ingredients” in these high energy drinks. However because of these associated health risks, some lawmakers are asking the FDA to regulate these drinks and kudos to the attorney general of my home state of New York for investigating the practices of the companies who produce these drinks.

Not surprising, the products’ companies deny any wrong doing or health risks regarding their product. The December issue of Consumer Report states five energy drinks actually has twenty percent more caffeine than reported on their labels.

Hopefully, the FDA will not need a bigger sample than 13 deaths before it moves its bureaucratic feet to regulate these companies. In the meantime, pregnant moms, please – stay away from those energy drinks.