The Food and Drug Administration says it will investigate foods with added caffeine and their potential effect on the health of children and teens.
Wrigley just introduced Alert Energy Caffeine Gum. And caffeine is being added to a bizarre range of other products -- Cracker Jack’d Power Bites, ice cream, jelly beans, trail mix and chips.
So the FDA said it is taking a "fresh look" at what caffeine might do to children and adolescents.
One piece of the gum contains 40 milligrams of caffeine, about as much as a half-cup of coffee, according to Wrigley, which is owned by privately held Mars Inc. The company said that it markets the gum as an energy product for adults 25 and older, and that it exceeds current regulatory requirements on labeling and disclosure. The gum's bitter taste does not appeal to children, it costs more, and packaging clearly separates it from other gums, a Wrigley spokesperson 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," said Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. "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 the FDA envisioned when it made the determination regarding caffeine in cola," he said.