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Energy Drink Makers Shift Their Damage Control Strategies

The makers of extra-caffeinated sugar water products like Monster, Rock Star and 5-Hour Energy are having a tough time. After being tied to several deaths and suffering through a few rounds of terrible PR, they’ve decided to shift their strategies by dropping the “dietary supplements” tag and referring to their products by their proper name: beverages. Our question: how did they get away with that for so long?

In calling their products what they so obviously are, the makers of these drinks are also subjecting themselves to new regulations–and avoiding others. They now have to list exactly how much caffeine each can contains, but their spokespeople no longer have to let the FDA know when someone draws a link between the “beverages” and their adverse health effects.

Of course, nothing about the contents of these cans will change. Isn’t it strange how a little bit of labeling can do so much?

The drink companies have also begun pushing back aggressively against the highly publicized cases of teenagers who supposedly died after consuming their products by calling press conferences and hiring their own teams of physicians to dispute previous findings (not that their paid-for testimony will be “biased” or anything). This legal strategy is frankly shocking: Monster recently threatened to sue a childhood nutrition specialist (who holds a doctorate in the science) after her newsletter for children stated that kids shouldn’t consume caffeinated energy drinks–and the article didn’t even mention any brands by name!

Will this scorched-earth approach reassure concerned parents? We don’t know, but we’re awaiting a lawsuit as we write this post.

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