U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take regulatory action to address the rising health concerns around energy drinks” in an April 3, 2012, letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Durbin’s action follows the December 2011 death of a 14-year-old girl that the lawmaker attributed to “caffeine toxicity after drinking two 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period.” Noting that FDA has the authority to regulate caffeine levels in soft drinks and additives in beverages, Durbin asked FDA to clarify whether energy drinks should be regulated as beverages or dietary supplements. “Most energy drinks are currently marketed as dietary supplements, therefore they do not need to establish evidence of their products’ safety or adhere to a limit on the level of caffeine,” he wrote. “At the same time, many energy drinks come in single-use containers ranging from 8 ounces to 32 ounces and are marketed like beverages.”

Durbin also asked FDA to require manufactures to “provide scientific evidence that ingredients, such as guarana, tuarine and ginseng, are safe for their intended use and when used in combination with other ingredients and caffeine.” The lawmaker noted, “Consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death. Young people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine, and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination.”