FDA scrutinizing safety of ‘energy shots’

WASHINGTON – Federal health authorities are investigating reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to so-called energy shots and cautioning consumers to talk to their doctors before they take them or other energy drinks.

The Food and Drug Administration has received 92 reports over four years that cite illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consumption of a product marketed as 5-Hour Energy. The FDA has also received reports that cited the highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink in five deaths and one nonfatal heart attack.

Agency officials said the reports to the FDA from consumers, doctors and others don’t necessarily prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries but said they are investigating each one. In a statement, FDA officials said they will take action if they can link the deaths to consumption of the energy drink. Such action could include forcing the company to take the drinks off the market.

Though it is liquid, the 5-Hour Energy “shot” is marketed not as a drink but as a dietary supplement. FDA regulations require supplement manufacturers themselves to be responsible for their products’ safety.

Elaine Lutz, a spokeswoman for the manufacturer, Michigan-based Living Essentials, LLC, said the company is not aware of any deaths proven to have been caused by their product. She said the company’s website advises consumers to drink no more than two bottles of the shots per day, spaced several hours apart, and for new consumers to drink half a bottle to start.

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