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Friday, April 26, 2013

Strategic CSR - Monster Energy

Longtime subscribers of the Newsletter will know of my distaste (literally and figuratively) for the food industry. This distaste extends to the drinks industry, which is working hard to compete with agribusiness to see which group of firms can do the most damage to long-term public health. The article in the url below helps push the advantage back towards the drinks industry:
“Fans of Monster Energy, the popular high-caffeine energy drink, may not notice the change: its ingredients will be the same and its familiar label bearing a green, clawlike monogram will change only slightly. But the drink’s maker has decided after a decade of selling it as a dietary supplement to market it as a beverage, a switch that will bring significant changes in how it is regulated.”
What changes, exactly, are we talking about?
“Among them: Monster Beverage, the nation’s biggest seller of energy drinks, will no longer be required to tell federal regulators about reports potentially linking its products to deaths and injuries. … The changes by Monster and Rockstar demonstrate the degree to which energy drink manufacturers can decide which rules to follow.”
It must be nice to be able to make up the rules as you go along:
“For a decade, Monster sold its products as dietary supplements, apparently as part of a strategy to convince consumers that they were different from beverages. But the company, like its competitors, has run into a spate of bad news, including the disclosure in October that the F.D.A. had received reports in recent years that mentioned its drinks in connection with deaths and injuries. Since then, the F.D.A. has received three more death reports and 14 injury reports that cite Monster energy drinks, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, Tamara Ward, said in an e-mail. In recent months, the agency has also received added reports about other energy products; since October, for example, it has received 38 reports that cite the popular energy ‘shot’ 5-Hour Energy, including five involving a death.”
The company, of course, insists that the change is merely part of the important public service that they offer:
“A spokesman for Monster, Michael Sitrick, said the company had decided to market its products as beverages for several reasons. One was to stop what he described as ‘misguided criticism’ that the company was selling its energy drinks as dietary supplements because of the belief that such products were more lightly regulated than beverages. Another consideration, he said, was that consumers can use government-subsidized food stamps to buy beverages.”
It is always reassuring to know such socially-oriented companies place our collective wellbeing central to their mission!
Have a good weekend.
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In a New Aisle, Energy Drinks Sidestep Some Rules
By Barry Meier
March 20, 2013
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final