Living Essentials, the company behind 5-Hour Energy, spearheaded a raid on a plant in San Diego that was allegedly producing massive counterfeit quantities of the energy drink, news reports indicate. Nearly 2 million bottles were seized during the operation, which was conducted in cooperation with authorities. It is unclear whether any suspects were charged or arrested. The raid comes amidst allegations that 5-Hour Energy may have caused 13 deaths.
Reports say Living Essentials, the maker of 5-Hour Energy, employed private investigators to track down where the counterfeit energy shots were being manufactured. The shots were apparently being sold at major national retailers, such as 7-Eleven and CVS. The investigators tracked the drinks to suppliers in multiple states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York. The suppliers then led the investigators to a manufacturing plant in San Diego.
With the help of local police and third-party task forces, Living Essentials raided the San Diego-based plant. They reportedly seized 1.8 million bottles of the fraudulent product, as well as names of those involved in the operation. Those names have not yet been released; it is not clear whether the individuals involved in the counterfeit operation have been arrested.
Following the raid, a spokesperson form Living Essentials said of the alleged fraud, “We are extremely upset that a group of alleged criminals preyed upon and profited from the loyal, hardworking customers who have come to rely on us to provide them with a high-quality products.” It is unclear if the alleged counterfeit energy drink resulted in or played a role in any serious side effects, such as the 13 deaths cited in recent FDA adverse reports.
The Food and Drug Administration announced last Friday that it was investigating deaths and hospitalizations possibly related to the consumption of energy drinks, including 5-Hour Energy, Rockstar Energy and Monster Energy Drinks. Numerous consumers, physicians, and mourning relatives have come forward since the announcement, telling the media their stories. It is not clear whether those who have experienced health problems or those who have lost loved ones because of the drinks plan on pursuing legal action, though it must be considered that no hard evidence has yet been presented to prove the danger of the drinks.
Over the last 10 years, the energy drink market has expanded exponentially. In 2004, 5-Hour Energy was released to the public. Since then the product has become one of the bestselling energy drinks in the Country, composing 90% of the energy drink market. However, not everyone is pleased with the popularity of the drink. School boards in places such as Florida have banned the use of the drinks on campus, stating that the high caffeine levels interfere with the students’ ability to focus in the classroom and the high sugar content may wreak havoc on tooth enamel when consumed in large quantities.
Following the FDA’s announcement, 5-Hour Energy released a statement saying that it is “is unaware of any deaths proven to have been caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy. It is important to note that submitting a serious adverse event report to the FDA, according the agency itself, is not construed by FDA as an admission that the dietary supplement was involved, caused or contributed to the adverse event being reported.”