Coming soon to a store near you: Cracker Jack'D, a new twist on the popcorn candy that includes "Power Bites" with as much caffeine in every serving as a cup of coffee. That could mean kids could easily get an overdose of caffeine if they consume more than one serving at a time, warns the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit nutrition activist group based in Washington, D.C.
The group fired off a protest letter last week to manufacturer Frito Lay and to the US Food and Drug Administration. "Whether or not they are advertised directly to children, it is certain that young children will consume Cracker Jack'd . . . and sometimes consume it to excess," wrote the Center's director Michael Jacobson.
Besides the energy drink craze, caffeine has also been added recently to foods you'd never suspect like the low-calorie beverage Crystal Light, Sport Beans jelly beans, beef jerky, and sunflower seeds.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a strong position against energy drinks and other caffeine additives in products. In a 2011 position statement, the group noted that caffeine "has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems."