The Times West Virginian


May 1, 2013

Disturbing trend of adding caffeine to foods must be examined closely


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.

Text Only
  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads