Food News

FDA Suddenly Cares About Caffeine Now That Wrigley is Putting It In Gum

Wrigley, the grande dame of the gum world, is getting a little edgier with the announcement of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum. It's about four cups of coffee edgier, since that's the amount of caffeine in a single pack -- eight pieces with 40 mg of caffeine apiece (a cup of coffee has around 80 mg).

Great, you think. Maybe you needed something to get you going between polishing off your French press and driving down to the gas station for another fix. And who could pass up such compelling flavors like "Mint" and "Fruit"?

But Alert has piqued the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, which is suddenly concerned about the effects caffeine has on the young. The amount of caffeine in the market now is "beyond anything FDA envisioned," according to Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner of foods.

It's surprising to hear that the FDA is only now acknowledging there may be complications with exposing children to high levels of caffeine. Although there aren't any studies on the effects of long-term consumption in children and teens, a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the impact of caffeine in energy drinks found that youths experienced stress, anxiety and dehydration. They determined that "caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents." But the FDA actually hasn't officially taken a stance on adding caffeine to products since the 1950s, when it approved caffeinating sodas.

Now, there have been other caffeinated gums on the market for a while. There's Jolt, Blitz, GoFast, Mad Croc and Stay Alert a "military energy gum" that tops the chart with 100mg of caffeine per piece. Alert may just be the gum that broke the camel's back.

There's currently caffeine in granola, potato chips, popcorn and even Jelly Belly Extreme Sports Beans. Because when you're transitioning from swimming to biking in a triathlon, what better way to get a boost than to pile a fistful of jelly beans into your mouth?

The Alert website is pulling hashtags from Twitter to promote/legitimize the product. According to their findings, 846,390 are #tired, 352,697 feel #lazy 24,376 are in a #foodcoma.

This sounds more like what America needs is a handful of nuts and some leafy greens, but "Walnut & Spinach" gum probably wouldn't sell well.

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Luke Darby
Contact: Luke Darby