May 9, 2013
Wrigley Pulls Alert Energy Gum As FDA Launches Probe Into Caffeine-Laced Food
[WATCH VIDEO: Caffeine In Food Investigated By FDA]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe OnlineFor whatever reason, food and drink makers have been actively pursuing ways to put caffeine into otherwise caffeine-free products including Cracker Jacks, potato chips and chewing gum. Wrigley, for instance, recently launched Alert Energy Caffeine Gum which contains 40 milligrams of caffeine – about as much as a half cup of coffee – in each piece.
Meanwhile the FDA and watchdog groups have been keeping an eye on these caffeinated products when some teens died after reportedly drinking caffeinated energy drinks, such as Monster Energy and 5-Hour Energy. Wrigley was almost immediately called out by one watchdog group when they released their high-energy chewing gum. The FDA also announced last week they planned to launch an investigation into the safety of the gum.
Today Wrigley announced they´ll be pulling Alert gum to cooperate with the FDA as they draw up “new regulatory framework for the addition of caffeine to food and drinks.”
"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation´s food supply," said Wrigley´s North American president Casey Keller in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "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."
The FDA is expectedly pleased with this decision and hopes other companies will take similar actions.
"The FDA applauds Wrigley's decision and its recognition that we need to improve understanding and, as needed, strengthen the regulatory framework governing the appropriate levels and uses of caffeine in foods and beverages," Michael Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner for foods, told CNN.
"The company's action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint," he added.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has also expressed concerns that Alert gum and other products of its like are being marketed towards children and teenagers.
Keller claims his company “took great strides” to ensure this energy-packed gum was only marketed to adults 25 and older. A spokesperson for the CSPI, however, said Wrigley´s “social media heavy” website was a clear indication that the gum maker had intentions to sell to younger consumers.
No matter who these products are marketed to, Michael Taylor says he´s surprised that so many companies are injecting caffeine into their products. Speaking to The Associated Press (AP) last month, Taylor claimed the only time the FDA has explicitly allowed adding caffeine to food or drink was in the 1950s when cola makers wanted to give their soft drinks an added kick.
"It is disturbing," Taylor said. "We're concerned about whether they have been adequately evaluated."
Frito-Lay has also recently come under fire from the CSPI when they released their caffeine-infused line of Cracker Jack´d snacks. Two flavors in this line, Cocoa Java and Vanilla Mocha, are imbued with 70 mg of caffeine, the same as a shot of espresso or a 12 oz can of soda.