January 16, 2018

New Gum Prompts FDA to Rethink Caffeine Food Safety Rules

The rollout of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum by the William Wrigley Jr Co. this week has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rethink the impact that caffeine as a food additive could have on children and teens. One piece of the gum, which is sold in eight-piece bubble packs, has about as much caffeine as a half a cup of coffee, according to information on the product’s webpage.

FDAlogothumbThe product is the latest in a string of foods to which caffeine has been added including jelly beans, trail mix and other gums. Now that coffees and soft drinks aren’t the only source of caffeine on the market, the agency is revisiting caffeine’s health impact.

“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,” Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine said in a statement released this week in response to the launch of Wrigley’s new gum.

In 2010, the FDA warned several companies that adding caffeine to alcoholic beverages was unsafe. Those products have since been removed from the market.

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