Monster CEO savages Wiley-style ‘frenzy’ of attacks on energy drinks


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Related tags Caffeine

Harvey W. Wiley (Picture Copyright: USDA)
Harvey W. Wiley (Picture Copyright: USDA)
Monster Beverage Corporation CEO Rodney Sacks has faced down critics of energy drinks and his firm, and said attacks mirrored those on mounted on Coca-Cola and addressed to a ‘gullible public’ a century ago.

At an investor meeting on Tuesday, Sacks spent around 15 minutes discussing the current litigatory, regulatory and media storm buffeting the category and the Monster Energy brand.

Monster revealed net sales for Q3 of 2012 up 14.2% year-over-year to $541.9m; net income for the quarter increased to $86.1m up 4.6% on Q3 2011.

“Neither the science nor the facts support the allegations that have been made regarding the safety of Monster Energy products. Monster reiterates that its products are, and always have been, safe,” a ​clearly emotive Sacks said.

Attacks ‘neither new nor unique’

The current crusade against the category echoed that aimed soft drinks of many years ago, he added, with publicity rather than science used to further a specific cause.

“What is now happening is neither new nor unique. Wiley spent a decade crusading against Coca-Cola, attacking them on every conceivable front…There are many similarities…to the current attacks on energy drinks, which are just as flawed as Wiley’s were a century ago.

(Harvey Wiley, pictured in his laboratory [centre], was a former chief chemist at the US Department of Agriculture’s chemistry division, instrumental in the passage of the 1906 Food and Drugs act and the FDA’s foundation.

Sacks said that Monster’s ingredients had scientific backing on safety grounds, while energy drinks were fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) although he said his firm appreciated the agency’s science-based review of the category.

“The company has been communicating with the agency to share data, and information, including third-party scientific literature that documents the safety of its products and their appropriate labeling,” ​he said.

“Monster welcomes the FDA’s conclusions to date, which the agency has expressed in publically available letters dated August 10 and November 21 2012.

Glossing these letters, Sacks said they detailed a long history of safe use of other caffeine-containing products in the US, and that average caffeine intakes had not risen with the drinks’ arrival.

Dietary supplement tag no dodge

FDA studies showed that, even when energy drink consumption was considered, most of the caffeine consumed among the US population came from tea and coffee, he added.

“The FDA included that although the agency’s projects to identify safety studies in caffeine is still underway, available studies do not reveal any new previously unknown risk associated with caffeine consumption,”​ Sacks said.

Taking the same tack as 5-hour Energy did in November​, Sacks stressed that Monster Energy products generally contained around 10mg/oz caffeine, while a Starbucks coffee contained 20mg/oz, so the firm’s products were just as safe for consumers.

And addressing attacks on energy ingredient combinations, in particular taurine and guarana, Sacks said the FDA had yet to identify studies questioning their safety under intended conditions of use.

Claiming that supplements were less regulated than conventional foods was incorrect, Sacks added, stressing that Monster, “had not sought to evade FDA regulations by marketing its products as dietary supplements…they could be labeled and sold as foods if we chose to do so”.

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