In response to all the controversy surrounding the potential negative health effects of all kinds of energy drinks, Monster Energy Corp. is retooling its marketing: Instead of hawking them as dietary supplements, claims which have been questioned by federal regulators, the drinks will now be sold as beverages.
The change comes as Monster joins the American Beverage Association, which took the company under its wing and suggested it sell the product as a food, a spokeswoman tells CNN. The product itself won’t change a bit, but the labels will soon include caffeine content in each can.
“Monster has a commitment to being responsible and wants to be transparent about the ingredients in their products,” the spokeswoman said.
Monster came under fire when the mother of a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking two Monster Energy drinks sued the company, but it claimed caffeine wasn’t to blame. She’d had 480 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of 20 8-ounce cans of soda.
Any company that makes a dietary supplement has to tell the FDA of any adverse events — which doesn’t mean the product is responsible or contributed to the health issue — linked to its product, but that doesn’t apply to products sold as food or beverages. Monster already has 20 adverse event reports under its belt, five of which are linked to death.
So it follows that if Monster is now sold as a food, it won’t have to report such events to the FDA, at least not in the same way.
As an FDA spokeswoman notes, an adverse event doesn’t mean the agency is concluding the product contributed to or caused the health situation: “When important information is missing from a report, it is difficult for FDA to fully evaluate whether the product caused the adverse event or simply coincided with it.”