Back when we first heard about Wrigley’s Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, the company was adamant that it would be marketing the product to adults and adults only. But now that the new gum is on shelves, as of this week, the Food and Drug Administration is taking a closer look at how such easily ingested forms of caffeine could affect the health of young teens and children.
Critics of the caffeine-in-food-and-drink industry have until now, primarily been focused on the energy drink business. But according to NBC News, groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest say that despite Wrigley’s insistence that it was only selling the gum to adults, it appears that kids are the target of a social media campaign.
That being said, looking at the Facebook page for Wrigley’s gum, we have to say it doesn’t really appear to be a fun time for kids.
The gum contains 40 milligrams of caffeine per piece, about the same as a half cup of coffee, and come in blister packs of eight pieces. Upon its debut yesterday, FDA officials said they’ll review the cumulative effect of caffeine in an environment in which it’s being added more often to sodas, snacks and other foods.
“FDA 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,” Mike Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a statement.
This particular move into the gum industry could be a slippery slope, notes CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.
“Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?”
The worry here isn’t just that one piece of caffeinated gum would cause ill health, but that perhaps chomping down an entire pack and combining it with other forms of caffeine could be a problem — for anyone, much less a young child.