FDA to probe impact of caffeine on kids' health following launch of Wrigley's Alert Energy Caffeine Gum

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

One stick of Alert Energy Gum contains 40mg of caffeine
One stick of Alert Energy Gum contains 40mg of caffeine
The FDA says it will take a “fresh look” at the health effects of caffeine on kids following the launch of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum - a new caffeinated gum from Wrigley (Mars).

In a statement issued yesterday (click here​), Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said: "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 the health of children and adolescents, and if necessary, will take appropriate action."

CSPI: Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?

The new gum - which has 40mg of caffeine per piece - has already raised alarm bells with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which wrote to the FDA last November (click here​) expressing concerns about the “widespread caffeination of the food supply”, citing a flurry of new products containing caffeine from Frito Lay’s Cracker Jack’d snack, to Kraft’s new MiO Energy water enhancer.

Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia - and in some cases rapid heartbeat and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care, claimed CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.

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

It will be increasingly easy to consume caffeine throughout the day

He added: "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.  

“And that’s on top of the soda, coffee, tea, and energy drinks that are already widely consumed.”​ 

Wrigley, which says the product is marketed at adults, not children or adolescents, says the gum represents a "portable solution​" that lets adults "control their caffeine intake",​ with each stick containing as much caffeine as half a cup of coffee.

Click here t​o read a Q&A with Michael Taylor on caffeine from the FDA website. 

Click here​ to read more about the new gum on our sister site ConfectioneryNews.com. 
 

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