It looks like consumers are going to have to get their caffeine buzz the old fashioned way — a cup of coffee or a can of soda.
Wrigley announced today that it would temporarily be pulling its Alert Energy Caffeine Gum off the shelves while the Food and Drug and Administration continues its review of foods containing added caffeine.
“After discussion with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation’s food supply,” says Casey Keller, president of Wrigley North America. “There is a need for changes in the regulatory framework to better guide the consumers and the industry about the appropriate level and use of caffeinated products.”
Wrigley had introduced the caffeinated gum in an effort to jolt the recently suffering gum market. Each piece contained about the same amount of caffeine as half a cup of coffee and was solely being marketed to adults 25 and older.
Despite these efforts, the FDA was concerned that the gum, or any food with added caffeine, could negatively impact children.
“We exceeded all regulatory requirement on labeling and disclosure because we believe consumers should be informed about the amount of caffeine they are consuming in their food and beverage products so they can make smart choices,” Keller explains.
There is no extensive evidence on the effect of excessive use of caffeine in adolescents, so the FDA is conducting a review of the available materials to better understand the outcome and the possibility of finding a safe level of consumption.
The FDA has contracted the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their review as well as actively reaching out to the food industry and healthcare professionals to discuss their concerns.
“The Agency is particularly focusing on product with added caffeine that may be attractive to children and adolescents, such as “energy drinks,” chewing gum, snack foods, candy and flavorings added to water,” says Shelly Burgess, team leader for food, veterinary and cosmetic products, office of media affairs, FDA.
The only time the FDA had approved the use of added caffeine in a product was in the 1950s when it was allowed in cola.
“The FDA applauds Wrigley’s decision and its recognition that we need to improve understand and, as needed, strengthen the regulatory framework governing the appropriate levels and use of caffeine in foods and beverages,” relays Burgess. “The company’s action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint.”