Monster drinks and kids: the debate continues

SHARE Monster drinks and kids: the debate continues

Trends often start on the coasts and work their way to the Midwest. When it comes to energy drinks and children, Chicago politicians might have been ahead of the curve.

The Chicago City Council last year debated an all-out ban on sales of energy drinks or limiting sales to people 21 or older.

Now the San Francisco city attorney and New York state attorney general have joined forces to investigate whether Monster markets its highly caffeinated drinks to children, The Associated Press reports.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a lawsuit claiming the drinks pose health risks and accusing the Corona, Calif.-based Monster company of violating state law by misbranding its drinks and marketing them to minors.

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued subpoenas to Monster and other energy-drink makers as part of his ongoing investigation.

Monster spokeswoman Tammy Taylor said the energy drinks are not marketed to children and aren’t highly caffeinated, noting a 16-ounce can of Monster contains less than half the caffeine of a similar-sized cup of coffee.

The Food and Drug Administration has been investigating reports of deaths linked to energy drinks, but the agency noted that the reports don’t prove the drinks caused the deaths.

Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, proposed a blanket sales ban, citing the popularity of drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle and 5 Hour Energy among teenagers and young adults and the dangers those drinks can pose to their health.

A month earlier, Health Committee Chairman George Cardenas (12th) proposed anyone under the age of 21 be prohibited from buying energy drinks in Chicago.

Cardenas said he simply wanted to get the industry’s attention and educate parents and young people about the dangers of energy drinks.

“You start with that premise because it brings more attention to the problem. It’s a more serious conversation. If we just hold hearings, people won’t take it seriously,” Cardenas told the Chicago Sun-Times on the day he introduced the ordinance.

A City Council committee held hearings in March but took no vote.

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