Caffeine in kids' foods 'dangerous', US regulator says

May 3, 2013

The US food and drug regulator on Friday called the addition of caffeine to children's foods like chewing gum and jelly beans "dangerous" and warned of a possible crackdown.

deputy commissioner Michael Taylor said the rise in such caffeine-added products outside the was "very disturbing," after candy giant Mars Inc. announced a caffeinated version of its Wrigley gum.

That was added last month to a slew of "high energy" foods on the market sporting substantial added caffeine, including pancake syrups, instant oatmeal, waffles, , marshmallows and .

"We believe that some in the food industry are on a dubious, potentially dangerous path," Taylor said in a comment on the FDA website.

"The gum is just one more unfortunate example of the trend to add caffeine to food."

"One pack of this gum is like having four cups of coffee in your pocket."

In late April, Wrigley, the longtime popular brand, introduced its Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, saying the product is aimed for adults and "lets people control the amount of caffeine they want on-the-go."

But critics say Wrigley products are generally available on the market to people of all ages.

"Our concern is about caffeine appearing in a range of new products, including ones that may be attractive and readily available to children and adolescents, without careful consideration of their cumulative impact," Taylor said.

Taylor said the FDA has not specifically regulated caffeine use since it first allowed the pick-up to be added to colas in the 1950s.

The rules it has in place, though, "never anticipated the current proliferation of caffeinated products."

In 2010, the FDA moved to block the addition of caffeine in , and late last year raised questions about high-caffeine "" after several deaths were linked to the consumption of one brand, Monster Energy.

But Taylor said the FDA was especially worried about caffeine added to foods children might easily eat, and was considering whether to place limits on it.

He called on the industry to practice voluntary restraint while the FDA studies the issue.

"We hope this can be a turning point for all to prevent the irresponsible addition of caffeine to food and beverages."

Explore further: US will investigate added caffeine in foods (Update)

Related Stories

US will investigate added caffeine in foods (Update)

April 30, 2013
Looking for a new way to get that jolt of caffeine energy? Food companies are betting snacks like potato chips, jelly beans and gum with a caffeinated kick could be just the answer.

Should caffeine be a regulated substance?

February 26, 2013
Caffeine-related toxicity, deaths, and near-deaths are an undeniable fact. In Sweden, for example, four people died as a result of confirmed caffeine-related causes in one year. Yet caffeine use continues to grow, including ...

Caffeine promotes drink flavor preference in adolescents

July 12, 2011
Research to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, indicates that caffeine ...

Study finds popular energy drinks trigger caffeine jitters

February 6, 2013
The growing popularity of energy drinks—and deaths linked to those products—are fostering new concerns about how much caffeine people can safely consume, according to the cover story in the current edition of Chemical ...

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.