National Consumers League

FDA energized to reexamine caffeine added to products


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By Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety & Nutrition Fellow The biggest buzz in the food community in the last few weeks has been around FDA’s announcement to take a closer look at caffeine added in food products.  This recent trend has led to caffeine showing up in products ranging from gum, to marshmallows, to maple syrup, to cracker jacks. Given the increasing popularity of energy drinks, it should come as no surprise that companies are trying to tap into that market.  However, because there have been some deaths linked to energy drink consumption, and because many of the foods that have added caffeine are particularly attractive to children and teens, FDA has decided to look into these products. After the announcement by FDA, Wrigley’s, which had been developing a caffeinated gum, has decided to withdraw the product “out of respect” for FDA.  This demonstrates the power of targeted action by the agency.  In a time of constrained resources, it is understandable that FDA has to prioritize.  This announcement by FDA clearly illustrates that one “warning shot” can send a message to the industry to change their behavior.  We hope the agency will continue taking similar action on food fraud and labeling issues, problems we consider important parts of FDA’s mission.