Caffeine latest ingredient under scrutiny

PepsiCo and Coca Cola will reveal caffeine content in all their beverages in the US amid mounting scrutiny of the ingredient. While Pepsi has begun phasing in the new labels, Coca Cola will start changing its labels from May, beginning with Coke Classic.

"We're simply giving consumers more information. We started phasing these labels in several months ago on many of our beverages. They're showing up on Pepsi-Cola now because we timed the labeling change to coincide with the brand's new look. This is something the whole industry has agreed to do," PepsiCo stated.

Coca Cola already includes caffeine labelling on its Full Throttle and Enviga energy drinks and Coca Cola said: "new packaging labels will provide the exact amount of caffeine in each serving."

Coca Cola, Pepsi and other beverage makers have been under pressure to give more nutritional information about their products from consumer and industry groups concerned with better nutrition. The Washington-DC based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) praised the initiatives, which it had been calling on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to impose since 1997.

"That information on soda containers will help pregnant women, parents, and others concerned about adverse effects of the mildly addictive stimulant drug, which is also found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and other products," it said. "Every company that adds caffeine to food should tell consumers how much they're getting, so consumers can comparison shop and make their decisions accordingly," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.

In a letter to Coca Cola, CSPI added: "Until FDA acts, we believe that every food company whose foods contain caffeine, whether it occurs naturally or artificially, should disclose milligrams of caffeine voluntarily. In addition to helping some consumers avoid caffeine, disclosure may help those of your customers who wish to seek it out."

A 2006 study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology stated all drinks containing caffeine should display the caffeine content on their labels to prevent those at risk from consuming too much of the substance.

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