Lifestyle & Belief

Energy drink makers face NY health probe


Monster energy drinks is reportedly in talks with Coca Cola over buyout, reported the Wall Street Journal Monday.


Tim Boyle

First it was large sodas, trans fats and calorie counts. Now New York is turning its attention to energy drinks. The state's attorney general is investigating whether the makers of sugar and caffeine-laden energy drinks are misleading consumers about the ingredients and health benefits of their products, reports the Wall Street Journal. 

Leaders of the multi-billion dollar energy drink industry, including PepsiCo, Monster Beverage Corp, and Living Essentials LLC, the makers of the 5-hour Energy drink, were issued subpoenas asking for information about their marketing practices.  

The subpoenas were issued in July, a source familiar with the issue told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. 

Reuters reports that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether the companies oversold the "health" benefits of the energy drinks while downplaying the role of caffeine. 

Labels on the energy drinks often don't say how much caffeine is in each can. 

The makers of 5-hour Energy market the drink as having the same ingredients as "broccoli, avocados, bananas and apples" and says it contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee but declines to state the specific amount.  

The Monster spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that on a per-ounce basis, Monster contains half the caffeine of some cups of coffee. "Monster energy drinks are completely safe, and we stand behind our products," she said in an email. 

The investigation follows a widely publicized proposal by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of sodas and sugary drinks over 16 ounces, reports the New York Times.

The proposal is part of a wider effort to fight rising obesity rates, particularly in children. 

Energy drinks are still a tiny portion of the $115 billion beverage market but their share is growing rapidly. NBC News reports that U.S. sales of energy drinks rose 16 percent to $8.9 billion last year and accounting for 12 percent of the carbonated-soft-drink category.