Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deputy Commissioner for Foods and
Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor said this week that the agency “is taking a
fresh look at the potential impact that the totality of new and easy sources of
caffeine may have on the health of children and adolescents, and if necessary,
will take appropriate action.” According to Taylor, “[t]he only time that FDA
explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food was for cola and that
was in the 1950s.” He acknowledged that in today’s environment children and
adolescents can be exposed to the substance “beyond anything FDA envisioned
when it made the determination regarding caffeine in cola.”

In 2010, FDA warned companies producing alcoholic malt beverages that the added caffeine was an unsafe additive and that seizure of their products was possible under federal law. The companies ceased producing the caffeinated products. Additional information about the 2010 initiative appears in Issue 373 of this Update. Congressional representatives have called on the agency to review the safety of energy drinks, which purportedly contain high levels of caffeine, and in late 2012, FDA indicated in response that it was then reviewing the potential risks of stimulant ingredients in such products. Details appear in Issue 463 of this Update.

News sources report that caffeine has found its way into foods and beverages
ranging from jelly beans, trail mix and potato chips to popcorn, beef
jerky, and energy drinks and shots. Center for Science in the Public Interest
(CSPI) Executive Director Michael Jacobson, who has long urged FDA to take
action on the proliferating use of caffeine, said, “Could caffeinated macaroni
and cheese or breakfast cereal be next? 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. And that’s on top of the
soda, coffee, tea, and energy drinks that are already widely consumed.” The
American Academy of Pediatrics has reportedly indicated that caffeine has
been associated with adverse effects on children’s developing neurological
and cardiovascular systems. See FDA.gov Statement and CSPI News Release,
April 29, 2013; cnbc.com, April 30, 2013.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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