With new caffeinated foods popping up, the FDA is getting more pressure to reevaluate the safety of caffeine, particularly for adolescents. This is a terrific news story on NutraIngredients-USA.com:

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

Caffeinated jelly beans and gum is not new, but this concept of adding caffeine to anything and everything is a bad idea. Here’s why:

1) Adding caffeine to foods that don’t normally have caffeine will make it harder, not easier, for people to regulate their caffeine intake.  If you don’t believe me, try keeping track of exactly how many grams of sugar you consume in one day. Too much sugar can be just as detrimental to your health as too much caffeine, but like with “too much fiber”, you won’t really notice you’re pushing your body too far until it’s too late to do anything about it.

2) Minors are especially vulnerable to caffeine because for them the safe limit of caffeine intake is so low. It’s unfortunately common for news anchors to completely neglect any reference to the limits of caffeine intake for minors. The truth is, while registered dieticians and pediatricians in the US have adopted an unrealistic “zero tolerance” standpoint, Health Canada has identified safe limits for kids of all different ages.

Ode to Heath Canada – Caffeine Safety

 Health Canada’s limits on safe caffeine intake are as follows:

  • For children:
    • Age 12 and under: no more than 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight
    • Age 4-6: 45 mg
    • Age 7-9: 62.5 mg
    • Age 10-12: 85 mg
  • For women of childbearing age: no more than 300 mg caffeine/day.
  • For healthy adults: no more than 400 mg caffeine/day.

 Please note that the 400 mg caffeine per day for healthy adults is based off the same comprehensive scientific review that the US used to set their daily maximum.

Effects of Caffeine on Human Health – Comprehensive Review

3) Putting caffeine in your product is just ASKING for FDA attention, not to mention angry letters from concerned parents. Caffeine is such a hot-button issue right now, and for good reason. Yes, of course caffeine is safe when used appropriately, but the easier your product makes it to abuse/over-consume caffeine, the brighter the target on your back.

As reported by Greenberg Traurig attorney Justin Prochnow:

FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael R. Taylor cited Wrigley’s new Alert gum, which is making its nationwide debut this week, as the catalyst for studying the potential impact that readily-available sources of caffeine could have on the health of minors.

“The only time that FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food was for cola, and that was in the 1950s,” Taylor said. “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.”

Taylor said that the FDA will take “appropriate action” it deems necessary to regulate caffeinated products following the investigation.

BOTTOM LINE: Caffeine is safe in moderation, and for kids and teens “moderation” means “almost no caffeine at all”. Putting caffeine in normally caffeine-free foods creates a potentially hazardous situation because it makes it easier for someone to consume more than their body can handle.
(think multi-vitamins that look exactly like gummy bears in a jar without a child-safe lid
)

Advertisements