The New York Times Reveals That 18 Servings of an Energy Drink Might Be Excessive


In case you are not alarmed yet by the threat that insufficiently regulated energy drinks pose to the nation, The New York Times tries a new angle:

Among the latest entrants in the energy industry's caffeine race is a pocket-size squeeze bottle called Mio Energy. Each half-teaspoon serving of Mio, which is sold by Kraft Foods, releases 60 milligrams of caffeine in a beverage, the amount in a six-ounce cup of coffee.

Actually, depending on the type of coffee and how it is made, that six-ounce cup might contain twice as much caffeine as one serving of Mio Energy. But wait:

One size of the bottle, which users can repeatedly squeeze, contains 18 servings, or 1,060 milligrams, of caffeine—more than enough, health specialists say, to sicken children and some adults, and even send some of them to the hospital. 

Yes, and if you drink 18 espressos, you'll be ingesting something like 1,800 milligrams of caffeine. If you swallow all 60 caplets in a bottle of maximum-strength No Doz (scandalously available without a prescription), you'll get 12,000 milligrams of caffeine, which is 11 times as scary as the scenario sketched by the Times.

As I mentioned on Monday, the trigger for the latest outbreak of caffeine-related anxiety was a lawsuit filed by the parents of a 14-year-old girl with a genetic vulnerability who died of heart arrhythmia after drinking two 24-ounce cans of a Monster energy drink. Each of those cans contained 240 milligrams of caffeine, 90 fewer than a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee. 

Bruce Goldberger, a toxicologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, complains to the Times that the FDA's approach to energy drinks "has been laissez-faire" and wonders, "What is it going to take to cause them to take action?" I don't know. Maybe another media-fed panic, like the one Goldberger helped set off as a critic of Four Loko?