Energy drinks have been drawing attention recently for their potential health threat, and Red Bull joins the list of brands under scrutiny. In the past eight years, Red Bull products have appeared in 21 of the United States Food and Drug Administration's reports about adverse health events.
Though there were no reported deaths associated, complaints in the reports increased heart rate, dizziness, abdominal pain, and anxiety. The reports ranged in level of seriousness--some did not require medical attention, others visited an ER, and required hospitalization or were life-threatening.
It's important to note that the FDA has not investigated the validity of these claims and looked into whether there is a link with Red Bull. Rather, the reports were collected as part of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) and posted in an online report last month.
So how does this compare to other energy drink products that have been drawing attention lately? Red Bull falls behind 5-Hour Energy and Monster (which is being investigated by the FDA) but is ahead of Rockstar in number of reports. 5-Hour Energy had 92 reports, 13 of which were deaths, in the same time period. Monster had 40 reports total and 5 deaths. Like Red Bull, Rockstar products were not linked to any deaths. That brand only appeared in 13 adverse event reports.
Lawmakers and officials are starting only recently to consider seriously the energy drink question, and obviously these reports far from answer it or point to the next step. But they're likely to be cited and further scrutinized as this issue continues to attract concern.