Should Energy Drinks Come With Warnings or Restrictions on Purchase?

 In Oakwood Solicitors - Latest News, Product Liability
Should Energy Drinks Come With Warnings or Restrictions on Purchase?

Government Advisor Advises a Ban on Energy Drinks from UK Schools After Links to Death

Energy drinks have seen a rise in popularity in the last few years particularly amongst children and teenagers. There have been a number of incidents that have been linked to energy drinks fuelling concerns over these largely unregulated products. Particularly worrying is their popularity among children and teenagers as some energy drinks contain up to 13 teaspoons of sugar and the equivalent in caffeine of two cups of coffee.

In the UK energy drinks have been linked to two deaths to date.

Joshua Merrick 19 was found by his father in January last year having died suddenly in his sleep. An inquest this week heard that Joshua had been drinking a high-caffeine energy drink called Animal Rage to boost his work-outs at the gym. While the inquest verdict was that Joshua died of natural causes the toxicology tests on his body could not rule out the possibility the drinks contributed to his death.

Josh’s father told the Daily Mail how he had been concerned about his son’s love of energy drinks. “These products arrive on the market and are available to everyone without any checks being done. Often parents have no idea that their children are drinking energy drinks nor how much caffeine is in them.”

In 2008 Chloe Leach 21 collapsed and died after drinking four cans of the energy drink Red Bull and a cocktail containing vodka and caffeine at a party. A post-mortem examination found that the caffeine Chloe consumed may have caused her death.

Also in 2008 Naomi Haynes 14 was hospitalised after she became addicted to drinking up to 50 cans of energy drinks per week. Doctors warned Naomi that her consumption of the drinks was putting her at risk of a heart attack.

Gina Weaver 15 suffered from severe stomach cramps after drinking up to 4 cans of the Monster energy drink per day. Her Mother told the Daily Mail “She started having really bad stomach cramps. She’d have a spate of them for about three or four days and then they would die down. She was suffering headaches too. I was so worried but I couldn’t work it out and neither could our family doctor.”

“She had a normal diet but then she mentioned that she drank the energy drink Monster. She admitted she drank about three or four cans a day which she was buying on her way to school. I had no idea – I’d thought there was an age-limit on them. I don’t think she had any sense of what was in these things she just liked the taste and said all her friends were drinking them too.”

In March last year Gina’s stomach cramps became so severe that she had to be hospitalised and given morphine. Gina’s mother says “The doctor told her that she had to stop there and then because the sugar caffeine and acid in these drinks was what was causing her pain.” The recommended daily limit for adults is 400mg of caffeine per day but Gina was consuming up to 640mg.

Last year a major study found that 1 in 10 teenagers in the UK consume four to five energy drinks a week causing experts to call for them to be banned from sale to children and teenagers.

Last month government adviser John Vincent compared energy drinks to drugs and urged schools to ban them. Some schools have followed this advise as many teachers complain that these energy drinks affect behaviour and concentration.

Brian Lightman the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders says “Some secondary school children come in having not had breakfast and started the day with one of these energy drinks. They are very hyperactive they can’t sit still and can’t concentrate. At the end of the day they are very fractious very tired and unable to concentrate.” The full extent of the effect of caffeine on children is unclear.

In the US the Food and Drug Administration are investigating a number of deaths and hospitalisations linked to energy drinks. Two mothers are suing the manufacturer of Monster over the deaths of their children from heart attacks. The drinks have also been linked to emotional problems and suicide.

The parents of teenager Anais Fournier are pursuing the Monster Beverage Corporation for causing the wrongful death of their daughter. They claim that the Monster energy drink lead to her death last year. The case is due to conclude later this year.

The American Academy of Paediatrics has issued a statement advising all paediatricians that children should not consume energy drinks. A recent report from The American Heart Association indicates that energy drinks can raise blood pressure and alter the heart’s rhythm.

In March last year 18 well-known medical doctors and scientists wrote a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration urging that immediate steps be taken to protect children and teenagers from the dangers of energy drinks. They have also suggested a link between energy drink consumption and increased blood pressure and changes in the heart’s rhythm.

Richard Coulthard Head of the Product Liability Department said ‘Energy drinks such as Monster have extremely high levels of caffeine without any adequate warning signs and this therefore leads people and particularly teenagers to consume these drinks as if they are any other soft drink.’

Richard went onto say that ‘Caffeine has addictive properties and dangers the same as Cigarettes or Alcohol. The difference however is that Alcohol and Cigarettes are only available with appropriate warnings and control measures. At present however there are no restrictions or warnings surrounding the consumption of energy drinks and this therefore creates an obvious risk to the public’

You can read the full story here

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