Questions as more foods add caffeine

New caffeinated gum prompts FDA to seek health-safety study
2013-04-30T00:00:00Z Questions as more foods add caffeineThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

WASHINGTON - Trail mix. Potato chips. And now gum.

With a growing number of foods boasting added caffeine for an energy boost, the Food and Drug Administration says it's time to investigate their safety.

The FDA's new look at added caffeine and its effects on children and adolescents is in response to a caffeinated gum introduced this week by Wrigley. Called Alert Energy Gum, it promises "The right energy, right now." The agency is already investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death.

Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner of foods, said in a statement Monday that the only time FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food or drink was in the 1950s for colas. The current proliferation of caffeine added to foods is "beyond anything FDA envisioned," Taylor said.

"The environment has changed," he said.

Taylor said the agency will look at the potential impact these "new and easy sources" of caffeine will have on children's health and will take action if necessary.

Wrigley and other companies adding caffeine to their products have labeled them as for adult use only. A spokeswoman for Wrigley, Denise M. Young, said the gum is for "adults who are looking for foods with caffeine for energy" and each piece contains about 40 mg, or the equivalent amount found in half a cup of coffee. She said the company will work with FDA.

"Millions of Americans consume caffeine responsibly and in moderation as part of their daily routines," Young said.

Food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years. Jelly Belly "Sport Beans," for example, have 50mg of caffeine in each 100-calorie pack, while Arma Energy Snx markets trail mix and chips.

"Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?" said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which wrote the FDA a letter concerned about the number of foods with added caffeine last year.

"Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?"

Michael Jacobson,

director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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