FDA conducts probe into energy drink safety

LEWISTON, ID - The FDA is currently conducting a probe into recent deaths that are allegedly associated with energy drinks.

"I think that you've actually had more fun," said Sidelines Grille customer Erin O'Leary, who consumes energy drinks regularly. "It keeps me awake all night, which is good."

Her friend Hailey Buker just turned 21, and while she doesn't think they're healthy, she understands the motives behind drinking the caffeine infused beverages. "If you're awake you can drink more alcohol," said Buker.

It's a fad that's becoming increasingly scrutinized across the country. The FDA is now in the process of assessing the possible risk of drinking energy supplements, a probe that may change the energy drink business.

"When energy drinks popped on the scene, give or take 14, 15 years ago, they became a solid part of the beverage industry." Greg Black is Veteran mixologist and beverage manager at Boomtown and Sidelines Grille, who's worked in Vegas night clubs for years.

He says after serving thousands of people alcoholic drinks with Rockstars, Redbulls and Monsters he thinks it's the responsibility of the consumer to keep an eye on how wired they are getting. "It's a total tragedy what's happened, it really is. But that's people taking it to an extreme," said Black.

According to the The American Association of Poison Control Centers there have been nearly 3,000 poisonous exposures to energy drinks since January of this year.

When asked if energy drinks may become illegal in the United States, Spokesperson Tamara Ward of the FDA said, "We can't speak to what may happen. What we can confirm is that we take this issue seriously and we have made it an FDA priority. If we find a relationship between consumption of the product and harm, FDA will take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate the risk."

Because these drinks are considered dietary supplements, they are currently not regulated by the FDA. So there's no limit to the amount of caffeine that can go into the drinks. It's unknown at this time how long the probe by the FDA will take.

An article by the AAPCC said of the approximately 3000 poisonous exposures to energy drinks this year, about 2/3 of those cases were children 18 years or younger. It's recommended that adolescents only consume 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about the same amount as a cup of coffee.