WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- Wrigley's Alert Energy Caffeine Gum sparked "a fresh look" of caffeine added to food products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, officials say.
Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars, introduced the new gum Monday. It has 40 milligrams of caffeine per piece and eight blister-packed pieces per box. Food advocate the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington said Wrigley's social-media heavy website was a sign the company intended to market the product to young people.
Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said the new caffeinated gum was the most recent in a series of foods to which caffeine has been added.
"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," Taylor said in a statement. "Children and adolescents might 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 said.