NYT Says Energy Drink Is Still a Monster, Even in the Soft Drink Aisle


Monster Beverage

"For a decade," writes business reporter Barry Meier in today's New York Times, the manufacturer of Monster energy drinks "sold its products as dietary supplements, apparently as part of a strategy to convince consumers that they were different from beverages." As Meier previously has informed us, that strategy was misleading, because, aside from the caffeine they deliver, energy drinks' special ingredients don't seem to do much. Meier also has worried that energy drinks "marketed as supplements do not list the amount of caffeine used." So now that Monster Beverage has decided to sell its products as soft drinks rather than dietary supplements and list caffeine content on every can, you might think Meier would be pleased—but only if you have not been following his series of alarmist stories about energy drinks, which he portrays as a deadly threat foisted on naive consumers by conniving, callous corporations.

In Meier's mind, companies like Monster can do no right. Hence he warns in the second sentence of his story that Monster's switch "will bring significant changes in how it is regulated." For instance, the company "will no longer be required to tell federal regulators about reports potentially linking its products to deaths and injuries." Meier adds that "the company's recent move, which follows a similar regulatory makeover by another brand, Rockstar Energy, comes amid intensifying scrutiny of energy drink safety"—scrutiny prompted largely by his own scaremongering.

To his credit (or perhaps his editor's), Meier notes in his fourth paragraph that "a 16-ounce can of Monster's most popular energy drinks will contain 140 to 160 milligrams of caffeine, compared with about 330 milligrams in a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee." Ounce for ounce, in other words, energy drinks contain less than half as much caffeine as coffee. Yet caffeine is the ingredient that worries Meier, who says it might just kill you. He has never explained why the same stimulant that is so worrisome in energy drinks is no big deal in coffee, which contains a much higher dose of it.

The lawsuit that seems to have triggered Meier's caffeine jitters was filed by the parents of Anais Fournier, a Maryland teenager who died of cardiac arrythmia in December 2011 after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster energy drink on two consecutive days. As Monster notes in a recent press release, each of those cans contained about 240 milligrams of caffeine, which is less than a 12-ounce ("tall") cup of Starbucks coffee (about 260 mg) and substantially less than a 16-ounce ("grande") cup (about 330 mg). So if the caffeine in those two energy drinks really did kill Fournier, the same thing could have happened with two cups of coffee, which is hardly a reckless level of consumption and does not come anywhere close to a lethal amount. Meier's colleague C. Claiborne Ray reports that "the estimated fatal oral dose, which varies because of factors like weight, is 5 grams to 10 grams," more than 10 times as much as Fournier reportedly consumed on two occasions a day apart.

Amazingly, although a medical examiner's report on Fournier's death mentions "caffeine toxicity," no blood tests were done to measure how much caffeine was in her system or even to confirm whether it was present at all. Monster's lawyer, Daniel Callahan, says that by the time of her death, which occurred three hours after she drank the second can, whatever caffeine she ingested the previous evening "would have completely dissipated," while "only about 2/3rds of caffeine from the second beverage would have remained." Fournier suffered from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that affects blood vessels and the heart. Callahan adds that Fournier had "multiple heart ailments," including mitral valve prolapse, intramural coronary artery thickening, and myocardial fibrosis. He says medical consultants hired by the beverage maker "stated conclusively that there is no medical, scientific or factual evidence to support the Maryland Medical Examiner's Report of 'caffeine toxicity' or that Ms. Fournier's consumption of two Monster Energy Drinks 24 hours apart contributed to, let alone was the cause of, her untimely death."

That is pretty much what you would expect defense experts to say. But even if the modest amount of caffeine that Fournier consumed contributed to her death because of her pre-existing cardiovascular problems, such an outcome is extremely rare, to say the least. How often do you hear about people dying from caffeine toxicity after drinking a cup of Starbucks coffee? To focus on the danger posed by the substantially lower levels of caffeine in energy drinks, as Meier has done, seems utterly irrational.

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  1. So this company had decided to kill its young customers from different shelves then. (Read that as though I did it in ALL CAPS please.)

    1. Judas Priest was sued because some kid killed himself after repeatedly listening to them. When the lawyer alleged that Rob Halford put subliminal messages in to get people to commit suicide, he replied that advising fans to kill themselves was rather counter-productive, and a better message would be “buy more of our records.”

  2. To focus on the danger posed by the substantially lower levels of caffeine in energy drinks, as Meier has done, seems utterly irrational.

    That’s because it is. Professional concern trolls like Meier do not operate on logic, they operate on emotion.

    1. I don’t know, it seems kinda rational to me. After all, he gets to keep writing the same kinds of bullshit stories for the NYT, which is presumably paying him for them.

    2. they operate on emotion.

      And it works, too. That’s the sad part.

      1. That’s the sad part.

        Sounds like someone else is operating on emotion.

          1. Bud is disgusting.

            1. I dunno, her not giving a damn is kind of appealing.

              1. her not giving a damn is kind of appealing

                This right here is what I love about the young lady.

                1. Did we both admit to being attracted to “bad girls”?

                  Sheesh…we’re fucking cliches man!

                2. I think I’m starting to agree with you. I have no idea what her music sounds like, and she looks like about 10 years older than she is, but I like the attitude.

            2. At least it wasn’t PBR or Rainier.

              1. YOU LAY OFF DA PBR!


            3. Classy lady: No doubt the beer tasted great as the 26-year-old has admitted to drinking her own urine

              Bud is disgusting. I think Ke{dollarsign}ha is operating on a slightly different drink preference scale than you are Nicole.

          2. “The star smiled and laughed when she saw cameras even though she caught looking less than classy sitting in a gutter drinking the oversized can, which was partially wrapped in a plastic bag.”

            How do we know that can was really filled with beer?

            1. You would bring that up.

              1. I am just shite-stirring, Nikki.

          3. I used to live next to that bar back in 1994-1996. It was a dangerous shithole back then. It was me, the local Cholos, and Ruth, the Scottish bartender. I got in a fist fight on Christmas Eve 1995. The neighborhood Oakwood was a nasty gang zone with a full-on war between Shoreline Crips and Venice13. Shootings every day. Then it got gentrified.

            No more good old bad days at Brindelli’s Brig.

            1. I’m not sure what city I was in following my friends’ band around when touring one Summer, it was likely Pittsburgh, but I recall a Scottish bartender propositioning two college cuties forty bucks if they allowed him to follow them to the bathroom and watch them ‘take a shite.’

          4. Jeez Keesh, why don’t you just put up a real estate sign in front of your snatch?

    3. But coffee contains antioxidants!!! Or it’s more natural or something.

      1. It also promotes more productive card-punching, worker drones and majors in the Humanities at liberal arts colleges.

        Monster promotes risk-taking activities like snowboarding and fun.

    4. Yup.

      “Company X advertises caffeine content! This is to get people to seek out more and more caffeine and DIE!”

      “Company X doesn’t advertise its caffeine content! This is so nobody will know how much caffeine is in it, so they’ll DIE!”

      You can’t win; mention caffeine content and they accuse you of promoting a race for more-and-more-caffeine.

      Don’t mention it and you’re depriving the customer of vital information…

  3. We need a fault line on the East Coast.

    1. And a nuclear missile hijacked by a diseased maniac for his hair-brained land swindle.

    2. A major fault line really doesn’t help. If anything, it’s an excuse for a more intrusive government. Look at California or Japan.

  4. Assault beverages.

    1. High capacity ones, even.

  5. Why do you not care about the children?

  6. apparently as part of a strategy to convince consumers that they were different from beverages

    WTF does shit like this even mean? You drink it? Then it’s a fucking beverage. People who think there is some kind of technical meaning of “beverage” that would make it mutually exclusive with “dietary supplement” are inherently retarded.

    1. “apparently as part of a strategy to convince consumers that they were different from beverages”

      “WTF does shit like this even mean?”

      Exactly. I’ve never once felt like a beverage.

      1. More like a foodstuff, I imagine.

        1. Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here!

          1. Oh, the poor baby!

    2. Yeah, i didn’t get that either. I mean, some of those drinks are/were obviously different from bog-standard beverages, unless Coke comes with regular doses of Nitric Oxide, B12, Creatine and Taurine and I wasn’t aware.

      1. This has B vitamins, a key ingredient in the energy beverages I enjoy from time to time.

    3. Nutritional supplements fall under different regulations than foodstuffs. I not sure what they thought the advantages was and Meier only wants to suggestively hint about it because he doesn’t know either.

      1. Oh, I know there are regulatory differences, but part of the point is that actually writing about it exposes how fucking absurd they are, because we literally don’t have words that make it sound nonretarded. If Meier actually lives in a mental world where “beverage” doesn’t mean “anything you drink,” he is real far gone.

    4. And I thought that the “dietary supplement” labeling was required by FDA labeling rules.

  7. Because TEH CHILDRUNZ! Kids don’t drink Starbucks coffee, see? Kids drink energy drinks.


    1. Psht, I dunno what CHILDRUNZ you’re interacting with, but the ones I know double-fist energy drinks AND coffee to tide them over until they can figure out where they tossed their Adderall while drunk the night before.

  8. every time you think Peak Retard has been reached, along comes a story like this one that raises the bar. It’s like a record in track; there is no absolute mark, just incremental improvement (or degradation, as the case may be) over the previous record.

    1. Does that make Krugman the Bob Beamon of Peak Retard Track?

      1. until the next Mike Powell comes along

  9. To the attention of Mr. Barry Meier,

    Fuck off, slaver.


    LTC(ret) John

  10. Hey guys, I was 11 when Monster was launched in 2002 and thus presumably the target demographic. And guess what? I tried it once when I was 14, it tasted awful, and haven’t touch it or any energy drink since.

    I may be exceptional, but I’m pretty sure even teens are capable of making decisions about what they do and do not want.

    1. Not according to lefties who claim that advertising makes the stupid throngs buy stuff. It totally hypnotizes them to buy crap they don’t really want. Which explains why New Coke was such a huge success.

      1. As we discussed in another thread, if advertising works, doesn’t that mean it really is good advice not to dress sluttily lest one attract unwanted attention? After all, they couldn’t help themselves in the face of your advertisement.

    2. “Shit, this Let’s Move activity is fucking exhausting!” *cracks open Monster

      – 13 year old boy

  11. That Monster’s a Medina, y’all.

  12. WTF does shit like this even mean? You drink it? Then it’s a fucking beverage.

    Thank you.

  13. Imagine if they tried to bring back 1880’s Coca Cola.

    1. Yes please!

    2. Sounds like a job for BitCoin!

  14. There man, I liek the sound of this. Wow.

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