Food vs. Drug

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Barry Meier, reporter for The New York Times covering business, public health and the law, talks about the FDA's investigation into energy drink-related deaths, and how the agency regulates products that straddle the line between food and drug.


Barry Meier

Comments [9]

Thank you Julie for an excellent link. Very timely in that our family was coerced into huge amounts of energy expenditure on applying to New York City public high schools this fall.

Nov. 28 2012 12:17 PM
Laura from Westchester

My son as a freshman in college in 2010 was drinking alcohol with his roommates and drinking Red Bull at the same time. Late in the evening he passed out and his friends were unable to revive him. Although the 4 of them were underage (and therefore risked severe sanctions from the university, etc., for alcohol use), his roommates had the presence of mind to call 911. My son was raced to the ER where he had his stomach pumped and was kept overnight for observation. My son was accustomed to drinking but had not used Red Bull before going to college and didn't realize that taking it with alcohol is extremely dangerous for the body (stimulant and depressant together). This is the closest he has ever come to death. He hasn't touched an energy drink since. This happens in colleges across America every day of the week.

Nov. 28 2012 12:07 PM
Julia from Brooklyn

Concerning the prevalence and dangers of energy drinks, a more important though unasked question is why are so many people ingesting so many stimulants in the first place?

An interesting article addressing this:

Nov. 28 2012 12:04 PM

A better midafternoon pick me up than an energy drink mentioned by the caller would be to go out and taking a walk or run. A little fresh air and oxygen through the lungs is a much more healthy solution. Its just amazing how the beverage industry has done to transform what we consider suitable to drink.

Nov. 28 2012 11:59 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I used to the an energy drink junkie: Red Bull, Rock Star, and my fav - Howling Monkey, yes Howling Monkey. Apart from the occasional 5 hour energy boost, I do not use them anymore, because of health concerns, it's basically liquid cocaine.

Nov. 28 2012 11:54 AM

I never used any supplements anyway - and certainly not any energy drinks. I've confiscated energy drinks from my son and his friends on a routine basis and made them read the label long before this report. I basically review anything my son drinks because there are so many additives in just about anything other than water from the tap.

Nov. 28 2012 11:53 AM
MC from Manhattann

so people mix alcohol and caffeine are we blaming the alcohol or the caffeine? lets all become mormons !

Nov. 28 2012 11:52 AM
kevin from upper LS

the FDA are not the people who should be deciding this. this is an organization that tells us only drugs can "cure and treat". that foods are basically inert filler, that can provide not much more than calories and fiber. and,they leave people in limbo around nutritional supplements,with the ubiquitous and nonsensical, "this has not been reviewed by the FDA,and should not be used to treat dissease". they have no vested[or honest] interest in reviewing supplements to begin with. that staement, is a compeletly false construct from the get go. five hour energy, is garbage that is loaded with caffeine. red bull is heart attack in a can. these are neither foods nor supplements. by the way, natural things can kill too if not used properely. sugar,caffeine,etc. not that refined sugars, should have any place in a human diet to begin with[let alone artificial sweetners].

Nov. 28 2012 11:11 AM

food vs. drug sounds a lot like semantics since the FDA already regulates both, more or less depending on political factors of the day.

isn't the "supplement" really the hedge fund of what we put into our mouths , ie, out of reach of regulators -- and therefore the most natural domain for two-bit, beady eyed mcmansion kinglets?

Therefore why wouldn't energy drinks present themselves in that category in order to evade FDA regulation?

Nov. 28 2012 10:31 AM

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