FDA investigates safety of caffeinated foods

Trend of adding caffeine to jelly beans, marshmallows and instant oatmeal "without careful consideration of cumulative impact" prompted investigation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will investigate the safety of caffeine in food products, and "the fundamental question of the potential consequences of all these caffeinated products in the food supply to children and to some adults who may be at risk of excess caffeine consumption."

The investigation was prompted by what Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commission for foods and veterinary medicine, called a "trend" to add caffeine to foods, such as jelly beans, marshmallows, sunflower seed and instant oatmeal, which may be readily available to children and adolescents, "without careful consideration of their cumulative impact."

Taylor also stated concern for "the responsibility FDA and the food industry have to protect public health and respect social norms that suggest we shouldn't be marketing stimulants, such as caffeine, to our children."

Currently, FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day-approximately four or five cups of coffee-as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects in healthy adults. The agency currently has not set a level for caffeine consumption for children.

The American Herbal Product Association (AHPA) first adopted a trade requirement on labeling of caffeine-containing dietary supplements in 2005. Last month, AHPA amended its trade requirement on the labeling of caffeine-containing products. The most significant amendment to the original policy was to extend its application to products that are marketed as foods that contain added caffeine; the original policy had been relevant only to dietary supplement products.


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