Why Are 3 States Suing The Makers of 5-Hour Energy Drinks?

5-hour energy

Vermont, Washington, and Oregon are suing Living Essentials, the maker of 5-Hour Energy, a popular product that sells millions of units a week. The small bottles contain a highly concentrated dose of caffeine, along with a few other ingredients:

Energy Blend: Taurine, Glucuronolactone, Malic Acid, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, L-Phenylalanine, Caffeine, Citicoline.

Other Ingredients: Purified Water, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sucralose, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate and EDTA (to Protect Freshness).

The bottle is tiny, containing only 2 ounces of fluid (compared to a standard 8 fluid ounce cup). It only has 4 calories because this product is sweetened artificially with sucralose.

Back to the lawsuit. The three states claim that Living Essentials is deceiving consumers with its marketing claims. There is no scientifically sound evidence that 5-hour’s “unique combination of ingredients to boost energy” actually works.

Like many other processed products that are supposed to make us healthier, thinner, sexier, smarter, AND more alert, there is unfortunately not enough evidence to support their claimed benefits. These products are targeted at young people who don’t always exercise proper judgment. And at older people who are looking for a panacea that does not exist.

Products like 5-hour energy are supported by huge marketing budgets because they command a huge profit margin. After all they’re mostly water, sugar or fake alternatives, and a mix of cheap vitamins and caffeine.

Instead of getting kids to eat more vegetables and fruits, which actually can improve health, our warped food culture convinces them to consume more crap. Imagine what a $100 million TV ad campaign would do for cauliflower.

  • Dan

    I took these a few times to pull all-nighters in college. First time I took one I stayed up and then fell asleep for an hour somehow. When I woke up I was so jittery and literally was bouncing off walls; I couldn’t stand still. The two or three times I took one after they really didn’t have an effect on me. I rather have a cup of coffee.

  • http://www.greeneyedguide.com/ Danielle Robertson

    Guess you guys haven’t seen the study that substantiated the 5hr claims. I recommend taking a look:http://wp.me/p3SHzu-8f
    Greeneyedguide. Com “Study Substantiates Cognitive Effects of 5-hour Energy”

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      The study was funded by a law firm representing the manufacturer. You could have written the results before the experimentation even began.

      • http://www.greeneyedguide.com/ Danielle Robertson

        I don’t think you’ve looked at Dr. Jay Udani’s creditionals: http://newhope360.com/news/jay-udani-and-medicus-research-bring-solid-science-supplement-studies

        It’s unfortunate for all the people that you are trying to help that you automatically take this position on funding. Have any of the Fooducate employees ever been to grad school? Have you ever applied for a grant? Did you expect POM to pay the bill for a study on 5-Hour Energy? Or perhaps you’d rather the FDA pay for it (oh wait, you have problems with the FDA too,…) I like Fooducate’s mission, but I think you guys are seriously close-minded when it comes to the reality of funding research.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          It’s unfortunate, true. The reasoning is simple:


          The respected Doctor is CEO of a for-profit research company. Their clients are…supplement companies.

          Do you seriously expect any of the studies he publishes to reach a non-industry friendly result?

          • http://www.greeneyedguide.com/ Danielle Robertson

            The studies he PUBLISHES, no. But I don’t expect 100% of the studies conducted by Medicus Research to provide the results the company was looking for. If you email Dr. Udani and ask for examples, he can provide them to you. He is pushing the supplement industry to be more responsible with their claims and more systematic with their clinical studies. No more of these “5 people tested in a garage” type of “clinical trials”. THOSE are the trials that you can write before the experiment is done, but blanket statements don’t help when it comes to informing and educating consumers.

            Do I agree with everything 5-hour energy does? No. Do I respect the work Dr. Udani is doing? Yes. And I think if you did more digging you would respect him too. Just give it a try, what have you got to lose from approaching this with a slightly-more open mind?

  • Melissa S

    Official Statement from 5-hour ENERGY:
    “When companies are being bullied by someone in a position
    of power, these companies roll over, pay the ransom, and move on. We’re
    not doing that. The Attorneys General are grasping at straws, and we will fight
    to defend ourselves against civil intimidation. The suits allege that the only
    ingredient in 5-hour ENERGY that has any effect is the caffeine. If
    so, are the Attorneys General going to sue Starbucks for selling coffee?”

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate


      Free iPhone app ! Free Android app !
      Get Fooducated with a daily Food tip !
      Like on Facebook ! Follow on Twitter !

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Does Starbucks claim that using its product you can “leave grogginess behind and sail through your day.”?

      Does Starbucks claim to “help you feel awake and alert for hours”?

      • Bianca

        But caffeine does help you “feel awake and alert for hours.” Do I think this is some sort of magical concoction, no. But it’s a FACT that caffeine does help you stay awake.

  • gavin

    I try to avoid these drinks, but I have taken them before law school finals. I feel that unlike coffee, which keeps me awake but does not “unfog” my mind, 5 hour energy keeps me awake as well as give me mental clarity to think through difficult problems. That is not a scientific study, but it is my personal experience.

  • H2O

    Good to see things being done, and it would be nice to see a cauliflower commercial .