Caffeine is well known to perk people up and the coffee in the morning is no longer the only way that people can easily and readily get their “fix”.
There are increasing numbers of products available that contain some added caffeine. This is obviously being done to increase sales as more and more people are looking for a caffeine fix.
You only need to look at the wave of interest in coffee, in cafes and now at home, that is happening across the food industry to realize that caffeine is alive and well. Coffee has now overtaken tea as the beverage of choice in Australia, with specialist coffee businesses and now capsule based machines readily available for home and work use, coffee is now king. Caffeine and the increasing desire for it is a large part of that.
Alcoholic drinks with added caffeine or it’s alternatives (like guarana) have been removed from trade in the US because of the concern that the extra stimulate will have on those consuming the products, and have not been allowed for sale in Australia.
If the caffeine is being added to foods and beverages that are only consumed by adults, then they can make informed choices. However, when these foods are also available to children, there really needs to be discussion about suitability.
The USA‘s Food and Drug Administration has started such a discussion with it’s new investigation of the safety of caffeine in foods and beverages, especially in those available to children, and adolescents.
It has been prompted by the release of a new caffeine containing chewing gum in the US. Although the manufacturer says the gum is intended for, and marketed to, 25 – 49 year olds, it could be accessible to children and adolescents.
According to Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA, the gum is equivalent to four cups of normal coffee. The FDA is concerned that it is not just this gum but other children accessible and attractive foods that now have added caffeine. For some time now, there have been energy drinks available in Australia with caffeine and it’s alternatives to increase the “benefits” of these products. There is a set level of these ingredients allowed to be added, according to the Food Standards Code and the products must be clearly labelled as “containing caffeine”. It is also required that the labelling show that these beverages are not for consumption by children.
This US investigation is not the only one being undertaken by an authority around the world, other agencies like Food Standards Australia New Zealand are keeping a close eye on this situation.