July 19, 2018

FDA Applauds Wrigley For Pulling Caffeinated Gum From Market

A little more than a week after introducing its latest chewing gum product, the William Wrigley Jr Co. has temporarily removed Alert Energy Caffeine Gum from the market while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rethinks its stance on caffeine as a food additive. The gum, which was rolled out in late April, was latest caffeine-added entry to the market which already includes other gums, jelly beans, trail mix and water.

FDAOne piece of Alert Energy, which was sold in eight-piece bubble packs, had about as much caffeine as a half a cup of coffee, according to company. When sales of the gum began, the FDA’s Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, released a statement saying: “The only time that FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food was for cola and that was in the 1950s. Today, the environment has changed. Children and adolescents may be exposed to caffeine beyond those foods in which caffeine is naturally found and beyond anything FDA envisioned when it made the determination regarding caffeine in cola. For that reason, FDA is taking a fresh look at the potential impact that the totality of new and easy sources of caffeine may have on health, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and youth, and if necessary, will take appropriate action.”

After Wrigley announced its plan to halt sales of the gum yesterday, Taylor released another statement praising the action.  “On May 8, 2013, Wrigley (a subsidiary of Mars) announced its decision to pause production, sales, and marketing of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum. This announcement was made following a series of discussions with the FDA in which the agency expressed concerns about caffeine appearing in a range of new foods and beverages. The FDA applauds Wrigley’s decision and its recognition that we need to improve understanding and, as needed, strengthen the regulatory framework governing the appropriate levels and uses of caffeine in foods and beverages. The company’s action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint. We look forward to working with industry, the scientific and medical community, and all interested parties to address the issues posed by added caffeine in foods and beverages.”

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