The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the amount of foods being made with caffeine is concerning and the agency is working to examine how the availability of so many caffeinated foods may affect children. The agency is also probing the efficacy of its regulatory classifications and how well they are working to protect consumers.
When Wrigley’s added caffeine to a new chewing gum called Alert Energy Gum, the FDA responded with an announcement that it would begin a new initiative to investigate what effects the sheer proliferation of caffeine added foods could have on children and growing adolescents. Currently, the FDA is continuing to investigate the energy drink and energy shot market, which has been hit hard by consumer illnesses and even deaths including over 90 reports of illness or deaths possibly connected to the consumption of 5-Hour Energy shots and Monster Energy Drinks.
In an interview with the Associate Press, the FDA Deputy Commissioner of Foods Michael Taylor said that the amount of caffeine being added to food today is “beyond anything FDA envisioned” when it first approved the use of caffeine in colas in the 1950s. “It’s disturbing,” he said. “We’re concerned about whether they have been adequately evaluated,”
According to CBS News, the FDA classifies caffeine as a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) ingredient, when means that food makers can use their own judgment regarding using caffeine in their products, and in what amounts. Taylor said that products like the new Wrigley’s gum, which he said was like “four cups of coffee in your pocket” raises “questions about how the GRAS concept is working and is it working adequately.”
Though caffeine has been around for a long time, the government agency says that how much it is being used is quite concerning. In fact, caffeine is currently being added to nuts, candy, beverages, trail mix, and gum. Most of the companies who are adding caffeine to their foods and beverages say they are for adult consumption and label them as such, though critics say that the products remain appealing to children, and health professionals warn that children can be harmed by too much caffeine, CBS News reported.
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