That’s how Michael Taylor, who serves as deputy commissioner of foods for the Food and Drug Administration, described the current proliferation of caffeine that’s being added to foods.
It is pretty disturbing when you consider all the foods that are being pumped with caffeine. Candy. Nuts. Even gum.
The reason? Companies add caffeine so the food provides an energy boost to the person consuming it.
But that’s caused a growing concern, so the FDA has decided it’s time to investigate these foods’ safety.
As reported by The Associated Press, the agency’s new look at added caffeine and its effects is in response to a caffeinated gum introduced this week by Wrigley. Called Alert Energy Gum, it promises “the right energy, right now.”
Taylor said the FDA 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 pointed out that the agency will look at the added caffeine in its totality — that means that while one product might not cause adverse effects, the increasing number of caffeinated products on the market could mean more adverse health effects for children.
Many of the companies adding caffeine to their products have labeled them as being for adult use only. But 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, which is naturally attractive to children.
Even more troubling? The AP reports that major medical associations have warned that too much caffeine can be dangerous for children, who have less ability to process the stimulant than adults. Caffeine has even been linked to harmful effects on young people’s developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.
So if steps to regulate caffeine aren’t taken, where does it end?
“Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?” said Michael Jacobson, who serves as director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “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.”
This is the second time in recent months that the use of caffeine has been an issue.
In March, more than 50 percent of voters in the Times West Virginian’s weekly online poll agreed that energy drinks should be regulated, saying children especially should never be allowed to purchase such drinks.
Those voters were responding to a question of whether the FDA should put the brakes on children being allowed to purchase energy drinks, which contain more than 200 milligrams of caffeine in just one two-ounce bottle. To put that in perspective, a regular cup of coffee has 95 milligrams of caffeine. And it’s usually not gulped in one swift drink.
The FDA is investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death. The decision to also investigate the safety of added caffeine in food is a smart step in the right direction.
As Taylor said, the use of caffeine in foods is a disturbing trend, and one that must be examined closely.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
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