AHPA amends trade requirement on caffeine labeling

Policy extended to require caffeine disclosures in food products.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has amended its trade requirement on the labeling of caffeine-containing products.

The action, which amends the association's Code of Ethics & Business Conduct, came during AHPA's most recent board of trustees' meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

AHPA first adopted a trade requirement on labeling of caffeine-containing dietary supplements in 2005. The most significant amendment to the original policy is that it now also applies to products that are marketed as foods and that contain added caffeine.

The policy was also revised to exempt products that contain less than 5 mg of total caffeine and to allow quantitative caffeine disclosures to be made in milligrams or in cup-of-coffee equivalents.

Newly passed AHPA trade requirements are effective six months after adoption by the board, so this new trade requirement becomes effective on September 6, 2013. The current policy on caffeine labeling remains in effect until that date.

AHPA's Bylaws defines "Obligations of Membership" to include " ... adherence to all policies and principles of business as outlined in the Code of Ethics." The AHPA Code has established that a trade requirement adopted by the board constitutes an amendment to the Code. The trade requirement described in this communication therefore constitutes an amendment to the Code and should be considered as such by all AHPA members.

The revised policy is as follows:

Labeling of caffeine-containing products
Dietary supplements that contain more than 5 mg of caffeine per serving, whether as added caffeine or as a naturally-occurring constituent of one or more herbal ingredients, and foods that contain added caffeine in which the total caffeine is more than 5 mg per serving conform to all of the following:

  1. The labels of such products disclose the presence of caffeine.
  2. The labels of any such products that contain 25 mg or more of caffeine per recommended serving disclose the specific quantity or quantitative range of caffeine per recommended serving, stated in milligrams per serving and/or in equivalent approximate cups of coffee; except that this requirement does not apply to products in which the only caffeine-containing ingredients consist of crude raw botanicals or botanical ingredients in which the caffeine is not more concentrated than in the source crude botanical.
  3. The products are formulated and labeled in a manner to recommend a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine per serving not more often than every 3 to 4 hours.
  4. The following or similar information is included on the label of any such product that contains caffeine in sufficient quantity to warrant such labeling:
    a. Do not use if sensitive to caffeine.
    b. Not recommended for use by children under 18 years of age.
    c. Not recommended for use by pregnant or nursing women.

For purposes of this guidance the following definitions apply:

  • "Caffeine" is a xanthine alkaloid with the chemical formula C8H10N4O2. Its systematic name is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine or 3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione.
  • "Added caffeine" means (1) caffeine that is a unique ingredient in a product's formulation, irrespective of source (natural or synthetic) or form (pure caffeine; caffeine anhydrous; caffeine salts; caffeine compounds; etc.), or (2) the caffeine present in extracts of botanicals if the caffeine level is controlled or manipulated to a specific quantitative level or range that is higher than the naturally-occurring level.

In addition, for purposes of this guidance the following clarification applies:

  • Caffeine is found in several plant species, including in coffee seed (Coffea spp.), tea leaf (Camellia sinensis), kola fruit (Cola spp.), guaraná fruit (Paullinia cupana), yerba mate leaf (Ilex paraguariensis), and cacao seed (Theobroma cacao). Some references use synonyms for the caffeine found in plants other than coffee fruit (e.g., "thein" or "theine" if in tea leaf; "guaranine" if in guaraná; "mateine" or "mateina" if in yerba mate; "methyltheobromine" if in cacao*; etc.). This policy applies to caffeine irrespective of the synonymous or systematic name used to identify it. *NOTE: Cacao also contains theobromine (C7H8N4O2), which is a non-caffeine alkaloid.


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