CSP Daily News Readers on Monster Controversy: ‘Buyer Beware’

Most expect little change to result from lawsuit, investigation

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- “Buyer beware.” That’s the general theme in responses from CSP Daily News readers to an opinion piece about how retailers should react to the investigation into Monster Energy drinks.

The Corona, Calif.-based beverage-maker faces a challenge in an unlawful death lawsuit filed by the family of a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking two cans of Monster Energy. The Food & Drug Administration has also launched an investigation into the drinks after receiving reports of five deaths and a heart attack connected to the caffeinated beverages.

In his opinion piece title “Expending Energy Drinks,” CSP news director Steve Holtz encouraged retailers to maintain their energy drink sets, making changes only if federal regulation is enacted. See “Related Content” below to read the complete story.

Here’s how some readers responded:

You brought up some good points. I would caution that retailers do need to be aware of the product liability. Having Monster get sued is one thing, but if the retailer was the manufacturer or if he used a private-label manufacturer for the product, guess what … the retailer is fully liable. … The caution from this lawsuit is that now the gate is open, and retailers need to treat this product with the potential liability risk it is prone to enjoy from this point forth.--Kay

I am a middle-aged consumer of energy drinks and toggle between Monster and Red Bull. Like you stated, I know by reading the label the suggested safe consumption of these products. I take responsibility of my actions when consuming any product that has an anticipated effect and comply with safe consumption. Should we ban pain relievers next because consumers can't follow the dosage recommendations?

Although tragic the death of the young woman, I think the accountability falls directly on her. At some point commonsense has to come into play.

Our society has become in some senses a society of enablers. Take accountability for one's actions and quit blaming someone else for your mistakes. If we continue to legislate under the guise of protection because we can't take accountability for ourselves, we will become a society of lemmings.

From a c-store point of view, this is a huge $$ category and want to see this channel grow from a c-store shopper who likes variety and competition.--Anonymous submission

Having read several articles on this incident, it will be difficult for the prosecution to prove that Monster is responsible, given the fact that "billions" of cans of energy drinks have been sold and this is the first case of its kind. Unfortunately, the youth had a preexisting condition.--Pete

I think that if there is a warning label on any product that the company/companies should have to go through what they will be going through. You cannot fix stupid!--Jack

Great column on energy drinks. It’s such an interesting, high-growth category. I have an adult friend who had to go to the ER with a racing heart after consuming an energy drink. I agree with you: “Buyer beware.”--Karen

Meanwhile, a UBS Investment Research report this week suggested Monster Beverage Corp. could benefit from the controversy.

“History suggests headlines have created a buying opportunity,” UBS wrote. “Monster shares are down 23% in the last two days, and nearly 50% since June. We looked at past instances where U.S. stocks were negatively impacted by adverse events, including the U.S. tobacco industry, BP’s Gulf oil spill and a product safety issue at Mead Johnson. In each case, sell-offs around initial headlines ultimately presented an entry point [for investors].”

UBS also expects “very limited change to take place” in the energy-drink market.

“We believe potential outcomes from the FDA inquiry, California lawsuit or [other] investigation, will likely be minimal. At worst we expect the company may need to increase labeling disclosures or alter product claims.”

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