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Red Bull Energy Drinks Named in 21 Reports to U.S. FDA

Red Bull energy drinks were named in 21 adverse event reports submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. No deaths were cited.

The events date to 2004 and in some cases involved increased heart rate and abdominal pain, according to a list posted today on the FDA’s website. The reports cited four hospitalizations. The incidents are voluntarily reported and are deemed allegations with no conclusion drawn until investigations are completed.

The FDA released reports yesterday for Rockstar Inc., Monster Beverage Corp., and Living Essentials LLC’s 5-Hour Energy products. The agency is making the reports public as they become available, Shelly Burgess, an FDA spokeswoman, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

5-Hour Energy was cited in 92 reports, including 33 hospitalizations and 13 deaths, according to the data covering Jan. 1, 2004, to Oct. 23, 2012. Monster products were in 40 reports, with 20 hospital stays and five deaths. Rockstar was listed in 13 reports, including four hospitalizations. No deaths were attributed to Rockstar.

Monster and competitors such as PepsiCo Inc.’s AMP Energy, for which the FDA hasn’t released data yet, aren’t bound by the agency’s guidelines for caffeine in sodas because energy drinks are often sold as dietary supplements. Soda typically can have as many as 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounces for the FDA to consider it safe. The FDA may require companies to prove caffeine levels are safe if they exceed the guideline.

A Red Bull drink has 80 milligrams of caffeine, the same as an average cup of coffee, according to the product’s website.

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