The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will take a “fresh look” at the potential impact foods with added caffeine have on children and adolescents.
The agency’s announcement comes just as Wrigley’s launched its new Alert Energy Caffeine Gum. One piece of the gum contains 40 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as a half-cup of coffee. Wrigley’s says the gum is not meant for people under age 25 and even has a slightly bitter taste to dissuade children, higher price and packaging that differentiate it from other chewing gum.
Throughout the years, food companies have started adding caffeine to their products including jellybeans, potato chips and trail mix. Caffeinated gum seemed a logical addition to the list. The ingredient has become so widespread and more products claim to offer a boost of energy that the FDA decided to take a closer look.
The announcement also comes as the FDA continues to investigate a number of deaths linked to 5-hour Energy and Monster Energy Drinks. Those drinks contain high levels of caffeine, and studies have shown excessive caffeine can cause elevated blood pressure and heart problems in adults.
Experts say excessive caffeine can be especially worrisome in children with developing bodies. And, it can be especially dangerous for children and teens with health conditions such as heart problems, seizures, diabetes or behavioral and mood disorders.
An overdose of caffeine can cause symptoms such as dizziness, increased heart rate, muscle twitching, confusion, hallucinations, convulsions, and sleep problems. It has also been linked to sleep disturbances in children as well as adults.
The FDA says that after it has investigated the effects of caffeine on kids it will decide what action, if any, to take.