WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Trail mix. Potato chips. And now gum.
With a growing number of foods boasting added caffeine for an energy boost, the Food and Drug Administration says it's time to investigate their safety.
The FDA's new look at added caffeine and its effects on children and adolescents is in response to a caffeinated gum introduced this week by Wrigley. Called Alert Energy Gum, it promises "The right energy, right now." The agency is already investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death.
Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner of foods, said Monday that the only time FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food or drink was in the 1950s for colas. The current proliferation of caffeine added to foods is "beyond anything FDA envisioned," Taylor said.
"It is disturbing," Taylor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We're concerned about whether they have been adequately evaluated."
Taylor said the agency will look at the potential impact these "new and easy sources" of caffeine will have on children's health and will take action if necessary. He said that he and other FDA officials have held meetings with some of the large food companies that have ventured into caffeinated products, including Mars Inc., of which Wrigley is a subsidiary.
Wrigley and other companies adding caffeine to their products have labeled them as for adult use only. A spokeswoman for Wrigley, Denise M. Young, said the gum is for "adults who are looking for foods with caffeine for energy" and each piece contains about 40 mg, or the equivalent amount found in half a cup of coffee. She said the company will work with FDA.
"Millions of Americans consume caffeine responsibly and in moderation as part of their daily routines," Young said.
Food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years. Jelly Belly "Extreme Sport Beans," for example, have 50 mg of caffeine in each 100-calorie pack, while Arma Energy Snx markets trail mix, chips and other products that have caffeine.
Critics say it's not enough for the companies to say they are marketing the products to adults when the caffeine is added to items like candy that are attractive to children. Major medical associations have warned that too much caffeine can be dangerous for children, who have less ability to process the stimulant than adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics says caffeine has been linked to harmful effects on young people's developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.
"Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?" said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which wrote the FDA a letter concerned about the number of foods with added caffeine last year. "One serving of any of these foods isn't likely to harm anyone. The concern is that it will be increasingly easy to consume caffeine throughout the day, sometimes unwittingly, as companies add caffeine to candies, nuts, snacks and other foods. "
Taylor said the agency would look at the added caffeine in its totality — while one product might not cause adverse effects, the increasing number of caffeinated products on the market, including drinks, could mean more adverse health effects for children.
Last November, the FDA said it had received 92 reports over four years that cited illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consumption of an energy shot marketed as 5-Hour Energy. The FDA said it had also received reports that cited the highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink in several deaths.
Agency officials said then that the reports to the FDA from consumers, doctors and others don't necessarily prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries but said they were investigating each one. In February, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg again stressed that reports to the agency of adverse events related to energy drinks did not necessarily suggest a causal effect.
FDA officials said they would take action if they could link the deaths to consumption of the energy drinks, including forcing the companies to take the products off the market.
In 2010, the agency forced manufacturers of alcoholic caffeinated beverages to cease production of those drinks. The agency said the combination of caffeine and alcohol could lead to a "wide-awake drunk" and has led to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Trail mix. Potato chips. And now gum.
- Top News
Medicaid paid $12M for Illinois dead
The Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people listed as deceased in other state records, according to an internal state government memo.
The memo dated Friday, which The Associated Press obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, says the state auditor compared clients enrolled in the Medicaid database last June with state death records dating back to 1970. Auditors identified overpayments for services to roughly 2,900 people after the date of their deaths.
Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart
A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.
Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, died at 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning.
Prince reaches agreement with music label
Prince now owns the rights to the music he recorded on Warner Bros. Records after years of disputes and battles with the record label.
Warner Bros. announced Friday it had reached an agreement with the pop icon, who was signed to the label from 1978 to the mid-1990s, during which time he released key projects like "Purple Rain," ''1999," ''Diamonds and Pearls" and "Around the World in a Day."
Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Ill. GOP officials who wanted Brady out replaced
A crop of Republican officials who wanted to oust former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady for his statements supporting same-sex marriage have been replaced in their party positions.
Illinois Republicans across the state held elections for all 18 state central committee member posts this week, replacing six of the seven officials who signed on to a letter last year to hold a vote on removing Brady as chairman. The seventh person to sign the letter, Mark Shaw of the 10th Congressional District, was re-elected to a four-year term.
Iowa gets nearly $72M in yearly tobacco payment
Iowa received $71 million this week from tobacco companies — its annual share of a 1998 landmark legal settlement in which tobacco companies pay states for smoking-related health care costs.
The Iowa Attorney General's Office says that since 1999, the state has received more than $960 million in tobacco payments.
U of I burn center sees jump in ammonia burns
The University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center is reporting a higher-than-normal number of patients suffering from anhydrous ammonia burns.
The center says it has treated five people in the last two weeks. The center's medical personnel say they usually only see one or two cases each year. Official say the high number of patients in such a short amount of time is concerning.
Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers
In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.
Smartphone kill switches are coming
Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!
- The Way of the Cross By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer The Way of the Cross
A year after 'chaos'
It happened two hours after John Hood finished his run. Like many, he thought the loud boom was just the sound of cannons going off, something that shook the ground. It was odd, but Hood — a 1989 Clinton High School graduate — tried to make it logical, associating the noise with another good happening at the Boston Marathon.
- More Top News Headlines
- Medicaid paid $12M for Illinois dead