Red Bull, which manufactures popular energy drinks, has agreed to pay $13 million to settle a false advertising lawsuit alleging that its product misled consumers into thinking consuming the product would increase performance and reaction speed. Under the agreement, anyone who bought a Red Bull energy drink between Jan. 1, 2002, and Oct. 3, 2014, will receive either $10 cash or $15 worth of Red Bull products.
The lawsuit alleges that the company misled consumers with its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings,” but did not back up its energy-boosting claims with scientific evidence. Red Bull has denied wrongdoing. Consumers have until March 2, 2015, to register. However, if too many people sign up, the $13 million will be diluted so that everyone who signed up gets a share. A hearing will be held next year to determine whether the settlement will be approved.
Meanwhile, makers of energy drinks, including Red Bull, are facing much more serious lawsuits alleging the drinks have caused injuries and deaths. Last year, a 33-year-old Brooklyn man died of a heart attack during a basketball game after downing the highly caffeinated beverage. His family blames his death on the energy drink and are asking for $85 million in compensation.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been looking into incident reports involving Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour Energy. More than 90 incidents of serious or life threatening reactions and 13 deaths have been linked to 5-Hour Energy drinks and five deaths have been linked to Monster.
Research has shown that the drinks can cause increased blood pressure, heart palpitations and arrhythmias, anxiety, and insomnia. The drinks’ higher caffeine content is the biggest cause of adverse effects, researchers say. However, some drinks contain extra stimulants.
For example, 16 ounces of either Red Bull or Monster contain about 160mg of caffeine, and a shot of 5-Hour Energy contains about 215 mg of caffeine. 5-Hour Energy also contains sugar and the amino acids taurine, L-tyrosine, and L-phenylalanine.