Scrutiny Intensifies on Energy Drink Makers

Red Bull Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit as Congress Considers Tighter Regulations

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Red Bull
Red Bull 

Energy drinks are coming under scrutiny yet again, with the filing of an $85 million wrongful death lawsuit against Red Bull.

A 33-year-old Brooklyn man collapsed while playing basketball after consuming the beverage. The cause of death was idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, meaning his heart stopped, according to the New York Daily News. It's not the first death reportedly linked to energy drink consumption, which has prompted Congress to consider tighter regulations on the industry.

A Red Bull spokeswoman declined to comment on the case. She pointed out, however, that Red Bull is available in more than 165 countries because health authorities have concluded it is safe to consume. About 35 billion cans have been consumed since Red Bull was created more than 25 years ago, she added.

During a July Senate Commerce hearing, Red Bull's VP-Marketing Amy Taylor promised to limit the amount of caffeine in its drinks and said it would not "encourage or condone the excessive or rapid consumption" of its products.

Senators have called on energy drink makers to stop marketing to children and selling products in K-12 schools. A number of the largest brands, including Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar Energy, are members of the American Beverage Association and adhere to that group's policies, which already call for "responsible labeling and marketing." Members do not market their products to children under age 12, nor do they distribute products to K-12 schools.

Last month the American Academy of Family Physicians came out in opposition of sampling of "stimulant drinks" to those younger than 18, in addition to saying it would advocate for a ban on "stimulant drinks" for those younger than 18.

Dr. Oz is also expected to take on energy drinks during an episode airing this week.

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