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 Monday that the only time FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food or drink was in the 1950’s for colas. The current proliferation of caffeine added to foods is “beyond anything FDA envisioned,” Taylor said.
“It is disturbing,” Taylor said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re concerned about whether they have been adequately evaluated.”
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. He said that he and other FDA officials have held meetings with some of the large food companies that have ventured into caffeinated products, including Mars Co., which owns Wrigley.
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 50 mg of caffeine in each 100-calorie pack, while Arma Energy Snx markets trail mix, chips and other products.
Critics say it’s not enough for the companies to say they are marketing the products to adults when the caffeine is added to items like candy that are attractive to children. Major medical associations have warned that too much caffeine can be dangerous for children, who have less ability to process the stimulant than adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics says caffeine has been linked to harmful effects on young people’s developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.
“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. “One serving of any of these foods isn’t likely to harm anyone. The concern is that it will be increasingly easy to consume caffeine throughout the day, sometimes unwittingly, as companies add caffeine to candies, nuts, snacks and other foods. “
Trail mix. Potato chips. And now gum.
- National News
Jet may have turned; suspicious passengers checked
International intelligence agencies joined the investigation Sunday into two passengers who boarded the missing Boeing 777 jetliner with stolen passports, as Malaysian authorities said radar images showed the plane may have turned back before vanishing.
Putin defends separatist drive in Crimea as legal
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday defended the separatist drive in the disputed Crimean Peninsula as in keeping with international law, but Ukraine’s prime minister vowed not to relinquish “a single centimeter” of his country’s territory.
Stigma hinders efforts to combat leprosy in India
At first, Ashok Yadav ignored the patches of pink skin on his arm. But when pale sores erupted on his body and he lost sensation in his fingertips, a doctor issued the devastating diagnosis: Yadav had leprosy.
Pistorius trial: Stunning testimony in 1st week
The testimony in the first week of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial was jaw dropping at times, and more riveting evidence is expected as the prosecution seeks to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the double-amputee athlete intentionally shot dead his girlfriend.
Gettysburg wax museum selling historical figures
A life-sized animatronic Abe Lincoln is among the historical figures and tableau scenes from a Gettysburg wax museum set to hit the auction block just months after the town celebrated the 150th anniversary of his “Gettysburg Address.”
Counties undermine prison efforts
California counties are confounding the state’s court-ordered efforts to sharply reduce its inmate population by sending state prisons far more convicts than anticipated, including a record number of people with second felony convictions.
Boy buried by avalanche tried to bite his way out
An 8-year-old western Montana boy who spent about an hour buried in the snow after a deadly avalanche roared into his backyard says he tried to “lick and bite” his way out before becoming tired and falling asleep.
Set clocks ahead for daylight saving time
A sure sign that spring is on the horizon: It’s time to set the clocks forward for daylight saving time.
For Obama, a last stab at improving ties with Hill
In late December, President Barack Obama’s new legislative affairs team sent him more than a dozen recommendations for ways to improve his strained relations with Capitol Hill. The president responded with a few ideas of his own, including a request for more social events with lawmakers at the White House.
Plea for peace and Ukraine’s independence in Sochi
In the fading light in the mountains above Sochi, the athletes and flags from Russia and Ukraine appeared side by side Saturday, united by success on the opening day of action at the Paralympics as the discord between their nations deepens.
- More National News Headlines
- Jet may have turned; suspicious passengers checked