Wrigley recently launched a new caffeinated gum, Alert Energy, which raised more than a few eyebrows at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, even prompting an investigation into the safety of foods with added caffeine. Now, “out of respect” for the FDA, Wrigley president Casey Keller has indicated that the company is halting sales and marketing of their energy-boosted gum, at least temporarily.
"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply," Keller said in a statement to The Associated Press. "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 indicated that the company will give the agency time to regulate caffeine-added products before resuming production and sales of Alert, which just hit the market last month. The gum has the equivalent of a half a cup of coffee in just one stick, prompting the FDA to question the added effects of caffeine on children and adolescents.
Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA, praised Wrigley's decision to temporarily remove the product from the market, stating that it "demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health," and added, “We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint.”
Taylor recently made a statement in response to the launching of the caffeinated gum:
The only time that FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food was for cola and that was in the 1950s. Today, the environment has changed. Children and adolescents may be exposed to caffeine beyond those foods in which caffeine is naturally found and beyond anything FDA envisioned when it made the determination regarding caffeine in cola. For that reason, FDA is taking a fresh look at the potential impact that the totality of new and easy sources of caffeine may have on health, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and youth, and if necessary, will take appropriate action.
Taylor was also recently quoted as saying the gum was like having "four cups of coffee in your pocket."
Read more about caffeine on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.
Image: U.S. Food and Drug Administration