by Brian Wolfman
As you may have read, the FDA is beginning to look into possible regulation of caffeine when used as an additive to foods and drinks, including foods and drinks marketed to kids. How about some caffeine with your marshmellows or nuts? Yes, indeed, these foods sometimes have caffeine thrown in. Read this interview with FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor about the FDA's first steps in this area. Here's an excerpt from a couple of Taylor's answers:
The [Wrigley's] gum [with a half a cup of coffee's worth of caffeine in each stick] is just one more unfortunate example of the trend to add caffeine to food. Our concern is about caffeine appearing in a range of new products, including ones that may be attractive and readily available to children and adolescents, without careful consideration of their cumulative impact. One pack of this gum is like having four cups of coffee in your pocket. Caffeine is even being added to jelly beans, marshmallows, sunflower seeds and other snacks for its stimulant effect. ... We have to address 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 from excess caffeine consumption. We need to better understand caffeine consumption and use patterns and determine what is a safe level for total consumption of caffeine. Importantly, we need to address the types of products that are appropriate for the addition of caffeine, especially considering the potential for consumption by young children and adolescents.