Public and media outcry over caffeine levels in energy drinks seems to greatly outstrip the danger.
In response to all the hype around the FDA adverse event reports citing 5-Hour Energy shots, the company released an advertisement citing a comment from Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The comment came from a Time magazine article in which Jacobson was reported as saying, “Overdoing caffeine alone is actually pretty difficult to do, says Jacobson. ‘It’s highly unlikely. Someone would really have to make an effort to consume 40 or so 200-mg caffeine tablets.’”
The 5-Hour Energy advertisement used this quote to indicate the safety of the product. The ad did, however, leave out some context about the concerns of interactions between additives like taurine, guarana, and B vitamins with even low levels of caffeine. An oversight that the Center for Science in the Public Interest quickly moved to correct by sending a letter to Living Essentials asking them to take down the ad and issuing a press release clarifying CSPI’s myriad concerns around energy drinks and shots.
Bottom line: The beginning of the ad states that 5-Hour Energy has been used over a billion times. A billion! And there have been 13 deaths in four years. So 0.0000013% of the time drinking 5-Hour Energy might play some kind of a role in a death. Though to clarify, that in no way means that 5-Hour Energy caused the death or even necessarily contributed.
So what’s with the public outcry?