Monster Beverage sues San Francisco city attorney

NEW YORK — Monster Beverage is suing San Francisco’s city attorney over demands that the company reduce the amount of caffeine in its energy drinks and stop marketing to minors.

The company, based in Corona, Calif., says it’s being unfairly singled out by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who late last year had asked Monster to produce documentation showing that its drinks are safe. Since then, Monster says Herrera has asked it to reformulate its drinks and change its labels and marketing materials.

Herrera said in a statement Tuesday that he would aggressively push for Monster to reform its practices, and he noted that his office had been in good-faith negotiations with the company until recent weeks.


‘‘Monster Energy is claiming an unfettered right to continue marketing its products to children and youth,’’ he said. ‘‘I strongly disagree with Monster’s legal contention, and I intend to litigate this case aggressively.’’

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The suit comes at a time when the energy drink industry has come under intense scrutiny. Herrera’s office got involved in the issue after the Food and Drug Administration said last year that it was investigating reports of deaths linked to energy drinks, which sparked a wave of bad publicity for the industry. The federal agency has noted that the reports don’t prove the drinks caused the deaths.

New York’s attorney general has also subpoenaed Monster — as well as the maker of 5-Hour Energy shots and PepsiCo Inc., which makes Amp — as part of an investigation into how energy drinks are made and marketed. In addition, the family of a 14-year-old girl is suing Monster; the family says she died after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster in a short period.

Monster, meanwhile, has stood by the safety of its drinks. Earlier this year, the company hit back at the lawsuit, noting that there was no blood test performed to confirm that the girl died of caffeine toxicity.