The government publicly released reports Friday of injuries that cited the possible involvement of Red Bull, the country’s top-selling energy drink, just days after its producer said it was unaware of such cases.
The Food and Drug Administration posted online 21 reports that had been filed with the agency since 2004 that mentioned Red Bull, including ones that involved hospitalizations for heart problems and vomiting. The mention of a product in a report of an injury or a death does not mean it caused it or contributed to it.
The release of the filings, after similar releases for three other highly caffeinated energy drinks, appears to underscore the crazy-quilt regulatory pattern governing such products. It also highlights the dearth of data that F.D.A. officials are confronting in determining whether to impose additional regulations.
As the manufacturer notes, just because the product is mentioned in these reports, it does not mean the product was related to the deaths. I admit these stories have me concerned. First, the framing does tend to make the reader strongly think the drinks were implicated in the deaths when there is no clear evidence that that is the case.
Also, some are marketed as dietary supplements and some as beverages. The rules differ for each. That IS confusing.
Finally, what about other products implicated in health problems or death? How often is soda or coffee or milk related to a death. Sure, it may have nothing to with the product and the same may be happening here.
Caffeine is an unregulated drug and its use overuse may cause complications. It is toxic at very high doses. I’m unclear if certain medical conditions will make typical caffeine consumption more risky. (Any info on this?)