A new caffeine gum product is on hold because of potential new government regulations, the Wrigley Company has announced.
The US Food and Drug Administration has initiated an investigation into the effects of caffeine, particularly on children and young adults, and the company has decided to take it off the market at least temporarily after consulting with federal regulators.
Earlier this year, Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars, Inc., launched a caffeine-added product called Alert Energy Caffeine Gum. The new product was apparently meant to jump-start declining chewing gum sales as well as capitalize on the popularity of energy drinks. Each package of sugar-free Alert Energy Caffeine Gum costs about $3.00 for eight pieces, each one of which contains about 40 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to a half cup of coffee or a 16-ounce soda. It is sold in either fruit or mint flavors.
Wrigley President Casey Keller issued a statement about suspending the production, along with sales and marketing, of Alert gum: “After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation’s food supply. 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.” Keller also noted that the gum is intended for consumers over age 25. Responding to Wrigley’s decision, an FDA official said in part that “The company’s action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint.”
Energy drinks containing caffeine in particular have come under scrutiny of late as they are being aggressively marketed to all demographics including young people. These kinds of drinks have sparked controversy and lawsuits over the alleged health risks. But it’s not just caffeinated drinks that are at issue. “Food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years.” The American Academy of Pediatrics reportedly announced in 2011 “that children and teenagers should avoid caffeinated drinks , since caffeine boosts heart rate, interferes with sleep, and increases anxiety.”
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