Last week it was reported that an 18-year-old woman suffered three heart attacks after downing 10 Jägerbombs in a two-hour period. A drink popular with students, a Jägerbomb involves a shot of Jägermeister dropped into a glass of Red Bull. She survived, but the incident caused a media panic about the apparent dangers of energy drinks due to their supposedly high caffeine content. Jayde Dinsdale, the Jägerbomber in question, said: ‘I think it is pretty bad that people sell these drinks. You’ve no idea how much caffeine is in them and how dangerous they can be. I hope people will think twice about drinking energy drinks – they could be deadly.’ The ingredients, clearly indicated on the can, must have escaped her notice.
The risk supposedly attached to energy drinks is a topic that rears its head every couple of years. In 2008, the EU forced the ban-happy French government to lift a 12-year prohibition on Red Bull’s sale after it was unable to prove that the drink posed any health risks. In fact, evidence suggests that energy drinks cause no more harm than any other caffeinated drink. A 250ml can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to the amount in a standard cup of coffee. The average person would have the common sense to refrain from drinking 10 cups of coffee in quick succession, let alone coffee laced with a high-alcohol-content drink.
The simple truth is that Jayde Dinsdale drank too much. Instead of running to the press to blame the manufacturer, she, as an adult, should take responsibility for what and how much she drinks.
Katherine Hughes is a writer and researcher based in London.