Safety Shot Doesn’t Work — And Tastes “Nasty,” According to Hunterbrook Media Unscientific Study

Group A drank Safety Shot. Group B drank Celsius. Which saw their blood alcohol content decline by more?

Safety Shot’s claims are “too good to be true” and its drink includes an ingredient known for smelling like rotten eggs, according to Johns Hopkins director of addiction medicine. A personal injury attorney said he believes Safety Shot (NASDAQ: $SHOT) could be held liable for drunk driving accidents. A customer who spoke to Hunterbrook Media said Safety Shot made her “as sick as I have ever been,” leading her to sell shares of the company’s stock. 

Based on Hunterbrook Media’s reporting, Hunterbrook Capital is short $SHOT at the time of publication. Positions may change at any time after publication. This is not investment advice. See full disclaimer below.

Imagine being able to drink as much as you want — and then, within minutes, sober up. Sounds like a dream, right? Or could it be reality? 

The beverage company Safety Shot (NASDAQ: $SHOT) has claimed its eponymous elixir can reduce blood alcohol content by up to half in 30 minutes — restoring “your central nervous system, cognition, and motor cortex.”

Whether those claims are true is a different question. 

“My mom used to say if it’s too good to be true, it’s not true,” said Dr. Michael Fingerhood, the director of addiction medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, in an interview. Given its ingredients, Safety Shot’s core selling point does not appear to be biologically possible, he said. 

Still, at Hunterbrook Media, we wanted to put Safety Shot’s claims to the test. After all, the company’s stock had been on an absolute tear, up more than 300% in the last year. And if it worked — if Safety Shot had really discovered the cure for inebriation — who knew how high its market cap could go? Monster has a market cap of $56 billion! Pepsi has a market cap of $241 billion! And those beverages can’t even help you pass a breathalyzer test!

So Hunterbrook Media set out to assess Safety Shot’s effectiveness through an unscientific study.

Here’s how it worked: 

  1. Invite a couple dozen “guest subjects”
  2. Make them sign waivers
  3. Get them drunk
  4. Breathalyze the guests
  5. Without revealing which is which, give half of them the experimental beverage Safety Shot while the other half drinks the control beverage Celsius, which has a similar amount of caffeine. (It was a double blind study: neither the participants nor the organizers knew who got which until after the study was complete.)
  6. Wait roughly 30 minutes
  7. Breathalyze the guests again
  8. Measure the average difference in blood alcohol content between the two groups
  9. Determine if the difference is statistically significant with a standard statistical test
  10. Assess the efficacy of Safety Shot 

For a moment, we had hope. The blood alcohol content of our guests did, indeed, decline significantly. The problem was that they declined even more among the control group (i.e. Celsius drinkers) than the experimental group (i.e. Safety Shot drinkers). And that difference was statistically insignificant anyway. 

All we learned was that if you stop drinking, over time, you will become less drunk, a fact already accepted by doctors and drinkers all around the globe. 

The Hunterbrook Media study was informal. Some people dropped out because they didn’t want to consume caffeine at night. Others drank when they weren’t meant to. Compromised “subjects” were removed from the data analysis when identified, but it was as much a party as a scientific experiment. 

The purpose of Hunterbrook Media’s study wasn’t to offer a definitive verdict on Safety Shot. It was to see how Safety Shot worked in the kind of environment where people might actually drink it.

A study by Safety Shot that the company has cited appears to be far from scientific as well — in a press release, the company conceded it was “a small study in which volunteers were not very closely monitored.” One drinker highlighted by Safety Shot allegedly had a blood alcohol content reading of 0.40, a figure that could have resulted in death. 

While a can of Safety Shot boasts that it is manufactured in a FDA-approved facility, the claims listed on the can have not been verified by the FDA, and don’t have to be, since the product is classified as a dietary supplement.

The company says it is conducting a double blind study. It was originally slated to be published in the first quarter of this year. This week, a press release from Safety Shot said to expect the study’s results to be announced in the next four weeks. Glynn Wilson, the doctor on Safety Shot’s board who announced the study, meanwhile, has since resigned

Though unscientific, there was one resounding conclusion from Hunterbrook Media’s research: Safety Shot tastes bad.

“It was disgusting,” one guest reported. “Really fucking nasty.”

“Horrible,” said another. “I would say I felt more sober, but as a result of being shocked by the disgusting flavor.”

Dr. Fingerhood identified the ingredient that might be responsible for Safety Shot’s foul flavor: N-acetyl Cysteine, which he said “smells like rotten eggs.” N-acetyl cysteine is sometimes used to treat Tylenol overdoses. He guessed that because of its flavor, the drink couldn’t contain very much of it. 

Safety Shot’s ingredient list

We asked Safety Shot why its ingredients include N-acetyl cysteine, and to address other claims we make in this article. The company did not respond to the request for comment. 

Another major ingredient in Safety Shot is caffeine. Panera announced this week that it was pulling its charged lemonade from its store — amid at least three lawsuits claiming the drink’s caffeine content could lead to cardiac arrest. A 20-ounce charged lemonade, according to Panera, has 155-178 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the flavor. A 12-ounce can of Safety Shot contains 200 milligrams of caffeine.

Safety Shot’s caffeine content, according to Dr. Fingerhood, is worrisome. He said studies have shown that while consuming caffeine might make someone feel more sober, a caffeinated person is as impaired as a similarly drunk person who hasn’t consumed caffeine.

Tiena, a Safety Shot customer who spoke with Hunterbrook Media, had hope for the company. She learned about Safety Shot through her daughter, a college student, and found the idea so compelling that she bought some of the company’s stock, thinking that it could reduce BAC so rapidly, it had the potential to “save people’s lives.”

Then, she tried it out. “It didn’t taste good, but I choked it down,” she told Hunterbrook. A few hours later, she was violently ill. “I could not stop vomiting. I threw up literally for probably 12 hours straight. My stomach was making noises I never heard it make before. Just throw up after throw up after throw up,” she said. 

Her husband, who also drank Safety Shot that evening, felt nauseous as well, but did not experience the same symptoms she did. She took one dose of Zofran, an anti-nausea medication that she had previously been prescribed, and that didn’t help. A few hours later, she took more Zofran and finally started to feel better.

“It was as sick as I have ever been,” Tiena said. “I would never wish that on my worst enemy.” She has since sold most of her Safety Shot stock, at a loss, though her husband has insisted on retaining some shares just in case the product takes off. She guessed that she will “for sure” lose the remainder of her investment.

Tiena ultimately wrote a negative review of the product on Amazon — and she is not the only reviewer who claimed they felt sick after imbibing Safety Shot. 

One reviewer alleged that consuming Safety Shot gave them “heartburn, diarrhea, headache & weakness.” Someone else said drinking Safety Shot “ruined my entire day and entire weekend, and my entire GI tract as well.”

Amazon reviewer T.M. said he purchased the product because he bought some Safety Shot stock. He claimed: “Woke with a little hangover headache this morning. Drank half of a can over ice to see if it took care of the headache. Within 30 minutes, I was immobile with nausea. Had to cancel my entire day because I spent it throwing up and feeling so incredibly horrible… Just sold my stock…”

Several others reported vomiting for hours after drinking Safety Shot — and three Amazon reviewers claimed they considered going to the emergency room because Safety Shot made them feel so sick. One, DS, claimed: “I have never left a negative review for anything in my 35 years of life but felt compelled to let others know of how horrible this product is.”

He added: “I would bet anything that this product ends up getting banned by the FDA down the road.” 

Not all Amazon reviews for Safety Shot are bad. The product has a more than three star average on the site. But the Mozilla website Fakespot, which uses AI to detect the validity of online reviews, says: “Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there may be deception involved.”

Another reviewer wrote: “I’m convinced that the reviewers who state it’s a great pick me up in the mornings either work for the company or own stock in it,” based on his own alleged negative experience with the product.

Of course, some of the negative reviews of Safety Shot could be illegitimate as well. 

Beyond the product’s efficacy and flavor, there are other questions about Safety Shot. 

The company’s executives have left behind a trail of bankruptcies, foreclosures, and failures, as Capybara Research detailed in a short report published last year. Capybara also showed ties between Safety Shot and Stratton Oakmont. Yes, that Stratton Oakmont, from “The Wolf of Wall Street,” known for defrauding investors and manipulating stocks. (Despite this history, Safety Shot has not, to this point, publicly faced similar legal issues, but has used paid stock promoters.) 

Safety Shot sued Capybara in response to the report — calling it “defamatory, unfounded and malicious” —  and won a Default Judgment after counsel was unable to serve the pseudonymous Capybara with the suit. The report remains published.

Safety Shot, meanwhile, lost a lawsuit of its own to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Safety Shot had claimed it was doing a “brand activation” at the festival. Coachella said that was “bogus.” The court ruled that due to Safety Shot’s conduct — including creating “a false association” with Coachella — the festival had “sustained substantial, immediate, and irreparable injury, and is entitled to a permanent injunction.” 

Before Safety Shot was Safety Shot, it was a public company called CBD Brands, whose effort to list on Nasdaq was stifled by the SEC. The agency wrote the company: 

You describe your website as “a robust e-commerce platform” where you currently offer for sale your own products and those of third parties… However… there do not appear to be any products for sale. 

Safety Shot is now on the market — available to purchase on the company’s website and on (Though we cannot, in good conscience, recommend you do either of those things.) It remains unclear whether Safety Shot has received any meaningful number of sales. 

In 2023, Safety Shot’s reported revenue was $200,000, while its losses were over $15 million, though the drink was not widely available until December. 

If Safety Shot were to take off, the fundamental promise it makes to consumers — an elixir that de-drunkifies you — may be a liability. Sure, the box of Safety Shot Hunterbrook Media received had the following disclaimer: “SAFETY SHOT IS NOT INTENDED TO PERMIT CONSUMER TO LEGALLY DRINK AND DRIVE. DRINK RESPONSIBLY.” However, that may not close the door to potential litigation. 

“You can’t disclaim away reckless behavior,” said Taylor Gaines, a personal injury attorney in San Diego, though he emphasized that he is not offering legal advice. “In my opinion, this product encourages people to drink and drive. I don’t think there’s a disclaimer in the world that could absolve them of this.” 

Gaines also raised the question of whether Safety Shot could secure adequate insurance coverage. “I think an insurance company would do their cost benefit analysis and be like, ‘absolutely not,’” he said. Safety Shot appears to have some coverage, based on its SEC filings, but the company discloses as a risk that “liability claims arising from a serious adverse event may increase our costs through higher insurance premiums and deductibles and may make it more difficult to secure adequate insurance coverage in the future.” 

Gaines said there is uncertainty as to the outcome of a potential suit against Safety Shot, which would come down to “many factors.” He can imagine plaintiffs winning: “If I got a case where somebody died because of a drunk driver,” he explained, “and it was a middle aged mom who was doing the drunk driving and she said, I had four glasses of wine and I took Safety Shot because I thought it was going to reduce my BAC by half…”

He paused.

“That’s a pretty compelling case against Safety Shot.”

Eve Peyser writes about the weirdest, funniest, and most interesting aspects of modern life. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ, and many other publications.

Hunterbrook Media publishes investigative and global reporting — with no ads or paywalls. When articles do not include Material Non-Public Information (MNPI), or “insider info,” they may be provided to our affiliate Hunterbrook Capital, an investment firm which may take financial positions based on our reporting. Subscribe here. Learn more here

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