-- Monster Energy drinks are getting a closer look today by officials who claim the caffeinated beverage is marketed to underage students to be used as an alcoholic mixer on college campuses.
To support its position, the Attorney General has revealed emails that he says prove Monster Energy both recruits students to promote their caffeinated drinks on campus and throw parties encouraging alleged underage freshman and sophomores to mix alcohol and energy drinks.
“There are large, almost cooler-like containers that are provided with the Monster logo, wherein they mixed alcohol and Monster drinks,” Karla Sanchez, New York’s Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice, told ABC News.
Monster calls the student promoters “Collegiate Ambassadors Team” members and pays them $100 per party, a student promoter, who wished to remain anonymous, told ABC News. The student also told ABC News “ambassadors” are encouraged to take photos at parties and report on the parties in emails to the company.
According to the legal filing, a Monster employee told the ambassadors, “Yes, it is okay to show mixed drinks.”
The Attorney General also claims Monster provided free energy drinks and provided cocktail recipes while telling the Ambassadors, “it’s your job to throw rowdy events and photograph the madness!"
The New York Attorney General’s office has subpoenaed documents about the collegiate program and wants to talk with the person who it believes is the organizer behind the “Collegiate Ambassador Program.”
“We have evidence, emails that demonstrate 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds are being approached and encouraged to drink the alcohol with caffeinated beverages,” Sanchez said. Monster Energy denies the claims.
“Monster did nothing illegal or deceptive,” the company said in a statement to ABC News, adding that the drinks, “will continue to be marketed in an appropriate, legal, safe and responsible manner.”
Monster argues it should not have to comply with the subpoena and it is the Attorney General who is crossing the legal line.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed caffeinated alcoholic beverages in 2010 with a letter to four manufacturers stating that their drinks could no longer stay on the market in their current form because, "FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is 'generally recognized as safe,' which is the legal standard."