The Food and Drug Administration has decided to investigate five deaths that appear linked to an excess of caffeine consumption. The deceased were heavy users of so-called energy drinks, Monster being one. These drinks -- others include Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy -- contain far more caffeine that is in, for example, a can of a cola drink. While we are opposed to regulation of the caffeine industry in the U.S., placing specific caffeine content levels on energy drink labels is appropriate.
The rise in these energy drinks provide users with as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine a dose or can. Compare that to a 12-ounce diet Coke, that offers 46 milligrams. Persons who find themselves unable to get through the day without one, two, or three energy drinks should have access to knowing why they are so dependent on the product.
And specific caffeine totals on labels would be another tool for parents who wish to keep an eye on their children's food and drink choices. We wonder how many moms and dads know how many calories are packed into the energy drink their teenager is guzzling down.
As we have mentioned, we are opposed to any laws or regulations that would ban these energy drinks or otherwise restrict them. (We don't want to go all "Mayor Bloomberg" on our readers!) However, it just makes sense to have more transparency out there for the heavy caffeine products.
And, too much caffeine can be dangerous for some people, as the recent deaths indicate. Although a fatal dose of caffeine generally requires five grams-plus of the drug, many people could have health issues -- or be taking medications -- that are accelerated with too much caffeine.
So, let's get specific and make sure these popular energy drinks disclose exactly how much caffeine is in a can or a dose.