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City of San Francisco sues Monster for targeting young people

In the ongoing debate over the safety of caffeine additives, the city attorney of San Francisco is suing Monster Beverage for marketing its energy drinks to children.

Dennis Herrera said this week that Monster is the “industry’s worst offender” in regards to the extent to which it targets youth and children. He points to the company’s “Monster Army” website, which uses children as young as 6 years old. The company also sponsors many youth sports tournaments.

In his lawsuit, Herrera says that Monster promotes excessive consumption of its products by telling consumers to “pound down” or “chug down” the drinks.

The lawsuit also notes that labels on Monster’s cans say people should drink no more than three 16-ounce cans a day. That is nearly five times the maximum daily caffeine limit recommended for children by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herrera didn’t fire the first shot in this battle. His lawsuit comes after Monster sued him last week over his demands that it reduce the caffeine levels in its drinks and stop marketing to minors.

On Monday, Herrera noted that his office had been working with Monster in “good faith to negotiate voluntary changes” when the company abruptly filed its lawsuit.

Herrera is not the only official looking into the burgeoning energy drink industry. New York’s attorney general has subpoenaed energy drink makers to ask them about how the drinks are made and marketed. Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have repeatedly asked the FDA to investigate the safety of the drinks for children.

Monster has been in the spotlight since October, when the parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier of Hagerstown, Md., sued the company after their daughter went into cardiac arrest after drinking two of popular energy drinks in 24 hours. The company denied its drink’s role in the girl’s death, with company lawyer Daniel Callahan saying that physicians hired to review the girl’s case determined she died from natural causes, brought on by pre-existing heart conditions.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the results of an investigation which revealed that since 2009, five people have died and one had a non-fatal heart attack after drinking Monster Energy. One can contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine.

Pediatricians wrote this February in Pediatrics in Review that consuming energy drinks can cause insomnia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and obesity.

If you are the parent of a teen or young adult, please make sure they know the truth about these drinks. Let them know that energy drinks are not just another fun, safe drink like pop or coffee.

At Elk & Elk, we are very concerned about dangerous products and want everyone to be aware when a new safety issue arises. To find out more about us, visit our website.