The family of a Maryland teenager is suing Monster Beverage Corp. after the girl died of caffeine toxicity. According to Washington Examiner, Anais Fournier drank two 24-ounce Monster Energy Drinks within a 24-hour period and went into cardiac arrest last December. She died several days later. This is what the Examiner wrote:
The Maryland Medical Examiner's Office determined Fournier died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity, which complicated a condition Fournier suffered from called mitral valve regurgitation, according to court records.
My heart goes out to Anais’ family. I’m sure they didn’t realize that the amount of caffeine the girl consumed could harm her, and they are trying to make sense of her death. I have a son just about Anais’ age, and I don’t always know everything he eats and drinks outside the house.
But I’m certainly going to bring this story up to both of my boys. Maybe, just maybe, if they know there is a possibility that overconsumption of caffeine can kill, it will make a difference with their independent decisions.
Just how much caffeine did Anais Fournier consume within 24 hours? The Monster website doesn’t seem to want to give up the caffeine information (at least not that I could find), but according to an Amazon page where the regular Monster Energy Drink is sold, there are 80 milligrams of caffeine in each 8-ounce serving of the drink. If she drank 48 ounces of the regular-flavored drink, she consumed 480 milligrams of caffeine in 24 hours from the Monster drinks alone.
I couldn’t find any government recommendations for daily caffeine intake. I did find several sources, including Teens Health from The Nemours Foundation, that said the recommended intake of caffeine for teens should not exceed 100 milligrams a day, and that adults should stay within the 200-300 milligram range. Anais exceeded both of these recommendations, although she probably didn’t know it.
I have several thoughts running around my head right now. The first is that I’m a horrible example to my boys when it comes to drinking coffee. I drink a lot of it in the morning. I don’t seem to have any adverse reactions to the caffeine in it, but I know they get a strong impression from me that caffeine is a bit of a miracle worker. I need to work on changing that perception.
The next is that parents need to be educated about the amount of caffeine that is safe for children and be aware of how much their children are drinking. They also need to educate their children about caffeine and its effects — especially the most dangerous effects it can have, even if those dangerous effects happen rarely.
My last thought is to wonder if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should step in and do something about the amount of caffeine in these drinks. I always think that personal responsibility and parental responsibility should come first when it comes to the consumption of food or drinks, but one of the FDA’s jobs is to make sure the ingredients in what we consume are safe. If the 160 milligrams of caffeine in one can of Monster Energy (which is two servings, but most people drink the entire can as if it was one serving) is considered unsafe for teens, perhaps the FDA should do something. The agency already regulates the amount of caffeine in soft drinks to no more than 71.5 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce; Monster Energy Drinks exceed that level, but they aren’t considered soft drinks. They’re considered dietary supplements, and therefore don’t fall under the same guidelines.
Perhaps it's time they should fall under the same guidelines or have guidelines written specifically for them. What are your thoughts?
Related on MNN: Is coffee your friend or your foe?