5-hour Energy -- the controversial caffeinated supplement drink under federal scrutiny for its reported role in 13 deaths -- has at least temporarily stopped running a Web-based video ad that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said misled the public about the nonprofit watchdog group's stance on the product's safety.
Lawyers for the Farmington Hills, MI-based manufacturer of 5-hour Energy say the ad will remain down while the company "research[es] the legal issues further."
The ad in question featured a quotation from Time magazine in which CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson answered a question about whether it is possible to die from caffeine. "It's highly unlikely," Jacobson told Time. "Someone would really have to make an effort to consume 40 or so 200-mg caffeine tablets." CSPI told 5-hour Energy that its use of that quote in its ad gave the false impression that Jacobson or CSPI endorsed the product.
In fact, CSPI does have concern about 5-hour Energy, which contains far more than just caffeine. It also contains citicoline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine, malic acid, glucuronolactone, unspecified natural and artificial flavors, the artificial sweetener sucralose, potassium sorbate, and sodium benzoate.
"People have been drinking coffee and tea for millennia," said Jacobson. "People have been consuming 5-hour Energy only since 2004. Considering that the FDA is investigating reports of heart attacks, convulsions, and deaths associated with the product, we recommend people not consume 5-hour Energy until the FDA gets to the bottom of the problems."
The company is also under investigation by the New York Attorney General's office, and Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) recently called for a Federal Trade Commission probe into the advertising for 5-hour Energy and other energy drinks.