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Caffeinated gum prompts an FDA investigation

Wrigley launched a caffeinated gum last week called Alert Energy, adding to the numerous foods and beverages now containing added caffeine for “energy.” And the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it is responding with an investigation.

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,” Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner, said in a statement. “The only time that the FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food was for cola and that was in the 1950s.”

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Although Alert Energy wasn’t mentioned by name, the FDA cited caffeinated gum as the reason for its investigation.

But FDA spokesperson Shelly Burgess emphasized to me that the agency isn’t singling out Wrigley but is going to review any and all products with added caffeine, to see how consumers — especially kids — use them in the real world.

“Alert Energy Caffeine Gum is for adults who are looking for foods with caffeine for energy and contains 40mg a piece, about half a cup of coffee,” said Wrigley in a statement, adding that the company looks forward to working with the FDA as the agency “refines its approach to caffeine.”

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