April 30, 2013
WASHINGTONAlert Energy Caffeine Gum, Wrigley's new product, has piqued the interest of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A top-ranking agency official on Monday indicated FDA will examine the gum as part of a more comprehensive probe into the effects of caffeine on youngsters. Only once has FDA explicitly approved the added use of the substance in a food, and that was for cola in the 1950s, according to Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.
"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," Taylor said in a statement. "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."
FDA already has launched a review of caffeine in energy drinks following reports that potentially link the beverages to a number of deaths and other serious medical problems.
"As the FDA refines its approach to caffeine, we welcome the opportunity to work with them on this important topic," a Wrigley spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
One piece of Wrigley's gum contains the caffeine equivalent (40mg) of half a cup of coffee, according to a webpage on the product. The energy product, which contains eight sticks of gum in fruit or mint flavors, is not "recommended for children or persons sensitive to caffeine," Wrigley, a Mars, Inc. subsidiary, states.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit health advocacy group, expressed concern that more foods will include caffeine.
Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?" Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI's executive director, asked in a statement . One serving of any of these foods isnt 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 thats on top of the soda, coffee, tea, and energy drinks that are already widely consumed."
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