Consumer Protection: Maryland Looks to Ban Energy Drinks

Possible legislation introduced by Maryland Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery County), could ban minors from purchasing the controversial energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, or NOS from retailers.

The possible ban stems from the 2011 death of Anais Fournier, 14, of Hagerstown. The toxicology report following the young teen’s death showed that she died from a cardiac arrhythmia caused by toxic levels of caffeine. Reportedly, Fournier had consumed two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy within the 24 hours prior to her death.

The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks

This case is not a solo incident of concern among critics of the popular energy drinks. Studies have shown that these “energy drinks” cause more forceful heart contractions, severe headaches, insomnia, extreme vomiting, and adverse reactions to other medications. The combination high dosages of sugar and caffeine can have detrimental side effects for those who consume too much of the drinks. Some studies suggest that as many as 20,000 people were taken to emergency rooms around the country between 2007 and 2011 because of energy drink consumption.

According to the Mayo Clinic, one 24-ounce can of Monster Energy contains 480 milligrams of caffeine – the same as five, eight-ounce cups of coffee, or about 14 cans of cola. In recent years, the FDA has released adverse-event reports to several of these energy drinks, including Monster Energy, 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar Energy, linking the products to numerous injuries and deaths.

The idea for the proposed ban draws on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children or adolescents not consume the drinks at all. Even though labels on drinks like Red Bull or Monster clearly state “not recommended for children,” there is currently no law restricting the purchase of these energy drinks by minors.

Questions surrounding the controversial energy drinks have divided the public on the issue. Many retailers, teens, and parents feel that it should be a child’s choice to consume the drinks or not, and the dangers are not “as bad as cigarettes or alcohol.”

The Maryland House Economic Matters Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on March 7 in Annapolis.

At Lewis and Tompkins, we believe that manufacturers that negligently create dangerous goods that injure consumers should be held liable for those resulting damages. For further information about product liability lawsuits, consumer safety, or the dangers of energy drinks, please feel free to contact us today.

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