Just days after introducing Alert Energy gum, Wrigley has halted production and sales for its caffeine gum, as federal health regulators are reviewing concerns about the safety of adding caffeine to gum and candy.
On May 8, Wrigley announced that it was pausing production, sale and marketing of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum in response to discussions with the FDA, which had launched an investigation into the gum’s safety.
The FDA has indicated that it is concerned over the rampant addition of caffeine to everything from waffles to jelly beans, many of which are likely to be used by children.
Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars, launched Alert on April 29, sparking an immediate response from the FDA. The agency vowed to investigate the safety of caffeine in all food products, especially those targeting children. FDA officials said one pack of the gum was like carrying four cups of coffee in your pocket.
Alert gum contains 40 mg of caffeine in each stick, which is the equivalent of about half a cup of coffee.
“The FDA applauds Wrigley’s decision and its recognition that we need to improve understanding and, as needed, strengthen the regulatory framework governing the appropriate levels and uses of caffeine in foods and beverages,” said Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine. “The company’s action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint.”
The actions come amid ongoing concerns about the health risks of caffeinated energy drinks, which have been linked to a large number of adverse event reports submitted to the FDA involving heart problems and even deaths.
A 14 year old California girl suffered cardiac arrest last year, allegedly caused by caffeine overdose after drinking two Monster Energy drinks over a 24 hour-period. Her parents are currently pursuing a lawsuit against Monster Energy Corp.
Many medical organizations warn that caffeine can have far reaching side effects for children, who cannot process caffeine as sufficiently as adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that caffeine may cause neurologic and cardiovascular problems in children.