Business Ethics: Monster Energy

Monster Energy is an energy drink manufactured by a company once called Hansen Natural Company. It changed its name to Monster Energy in 2002. According to Investopedia (2019), in 2015, Coca-Cola bought Monster Energy and now it sells all the energy drink labels while Coke sells non-energy drinks including Hansen Natural Sodas (Buehler, 2019). Monster Energy produces 34 different beverages including its Monster Energy line. Some reports say that energy drinks contain the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee in one beverage, but Monster claims its drinks have between 160 mg to 188 mg. of caffeine per 16 oz beverage. However, the website, Caffeine Informer (2019) cites Consumer Reports who tested Monster Energy drinks and found that the average amount of caffeine in them was 184 mg per 16 oz beverage (Caffeine Informer, 2019). For reference, a 16 oz cup of coffee would contain approximately 182 mg of caffeine.

The ethical dilemma does not lie so much in how much caffeine is in Monster Energy drinks, but the other ingredients found in it. Monster also contains some other stimulants according to Maxwell (2019) of Live Strong. These stimulants include guarana extract, taurine, sugar and B vitamins. These additional stimulants make Monster Energy drinks more dangerous to consume because they increase the caffeine content (Maxwell, 2019). Caffeine sensitive people and children who consume Monster Energy drinks can become ill from them. Monster Energy prints a warning on its packaging say that people should limit the number of cans they consume of the drink to 3 of the 16 oz sizes. The warning also says that Monster Energy is not recommended for children, pregnant women, or those sensitive to caffeine. The problem is that kids consume the energy drinks because they taste good. Then they become addicted to the caffeine in the product and they drink more. Not only are they addictive, but Monster Energy drinks can be deadly.

Differing Perceptions of Monster Energy

High school and university students are especially attracted to Monster Energy drinks, and they are marketed to this age demographic segment of the population worldwide. This is because students often try to fit many activities into a day and they also need to study. Research has shown that caffeine is a good brain stimulant, so students may believe that the Monster Energy drinks are helping them study or do well on exams. In other countries, such as Australia, Denmark, Germany and Turkey, some or all types of energy drinks have been banned or heavily regulated especially when it comes to consumption by young people. AbuDagga (2015) of Public Citizen explains that in Sweden energy drinks cannot be sold to children under the age of 15. There are also warning labels that discourage consumption of energy drinks after exercise or mixed with alcohol. Norway only allows energy drinks to be sold in pharmacies. However, in the United States energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements. “This classification precludes the FDA from requiring manufacturers to disclose the caffeine content on drink labels, making it difficult for consumers to know how much caffeine they are ingesting. This classification also exempts the majority of energy drinks from the caffeine level limitations that soft drink manufacturers are subjected to, just because all of the latter products are classified as foods” (AbuDagga, 2015). This means that there are many ways that American children can access Monster Energy drinks, which could harm them or even kill them.

Ethical Implications

Monster Energy knows that there have been many incidents of people becoming ill from their products. In 2013 they were sued because of the harmful effects of their drinks, often on young people and/or associated with the Monster Energy drinks being consumed in association with exercise or participation in sports activities. Despite this, at the Monster Energy website under the heading “Social Responsibility,” there is no mention of the ethics of the contents of their beverages. The do mention fair trade, avoiding human slavery, environmental sustainability, having control over their supply chain, human rights policies, and philanthropy, but nothing about how their beverages can harm or kill people (Monster Energy, 2019). According to Class (2019), Monster Energy settled three lawsuits for the deaths of three people related to the consumption of their beverages. They currently have another lawsuit making its way through the judicial process (Class, 2019). The remaining unsettled lawsuit involves a man who had a series of strokes after consuming four Monster Energy drinks in one day.

Because Monster Energy settled with the families of people who died from consuming their beverages, it seems as if they are admitting that their products can be harmful to consumers. However, they have not pulled them from the market. They also have not attempted to improve them. They have added additional warnings to the labels, which may be all they are required to do by the FDA. Clearly, Monster Energy does not really care much about the harm that their products do to the consumer. They have deep pockets since they are owned by Coca Cola and they can stop any settlements they make with those who sue them from being disclosed. This takes the issue out of the public consciousness. Meanwhile, people continue to work hard, not sleep enough and cram more activities into their days than most humans are physically capable of. That means they want energy drinks.

Leadership and Ethics

Better leadership of Monster Energy would be useful to improve their social and ethical reputations. Not only has the company been sued several times because of the harm their beverages cause, they have also been sued for sexual harassment and discrimination among their female employees and one department head was under felony criminal indictment. Peck (2018) of Huff Post says, “Even as he awaits a criminal trial for allegedly strangling his girlfriend during a business trip in 2016, Brent Hamilton is still the head of music marketing at Monster Energy . . . . John Kenneally is a vice president at Monster despite three women accusing him of bullying, harassment and retaliation” (Peck, 2018). From the sounds of it, changing leadership would solve many of the problems Monster Energy has.

Even though Monster Energy claims to be ethical in some ways, they are clearly hypocrites and do not care about their consumers. The consumers they target are young people who often are not informed about things like lawsuits pending against the company who makes their favorite energy beverage. The beverages keep selling, despite the potential harm they can cause, and Monster Energy seems to have no concern. They could create a marketing campaign that explained to consumers safe ways to enjoy their beverages. That would demonstrate that they truly do care about the reputation of their company and the ethics of doing business, but they do not care, or that is what it seems. They can claim they do at their website, but they do not even mention the fact that their beverages killed several people and harmed several others. Their corporate social responsibility only extends to the popular issues like environmental and sustainability concerns. If Monster Energy truly cared they would clean house of the current leadership and start over fresh with new and new and truthful marketing campaigns.


AbuDagga, A. (2015, October). Energy Drinks: A Classic Example of a Harmful, Unregulated Product. Retrieved from Public Citizen. org:

Buehler, N. (2019, October 6). 5 companies owned by Coca Cola. Retrieved from Investopedia:

Caffeine Informer. (2019). Monster Energy. Retrieved from Caffeine Informer: https://www.caffeineinformer.c...

Class (2019). Energy Drinks Settlement. Retrieved from Class

Maxwell, M. (2019, September 19). What Happens If You Drink Too Many Monster Energy Drinks? Retrieved from Live Strong:

Monster Energy. (2019). Social Responsibility. Retrieved from Monster Energy:

Peck, E. (2018, June 24). Exclusive: 5 Women Sue Monster Energy Over Abusive, Discriminatory Culture. Retrieved from Huff Post: