Is the FDA heading toward age limits on caffeine products?

posted at 10:01 pm on May 8, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Federal regulators dipped their toes in the giant caffeinated pool that is the American lifestyle when they banned the production of caffeinated alcoholic beverages, like Four Loco, in 2010.

Now, they’re looking to wade a little further, according to recent announcement from the FDA: (pdf)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that, in response to a trend in which caffeine is being added to a growing number of products, the agency will investigate the safety of caffeine in food products, particularly its effects on children and adolescents.

For the children, of course. Right now, you can pretty much put caffeine in whatever you want as long as it follows basic guidelines and is listed on the ingredients list, but we can’t let that kind of freedom and consumer choice run rampant, now can we? The FDA does have a guideline for upper limits of daily consumption of caffeine— 400 mg, or 4-5 cups of coffee— which I’d wager millions of Americans exceed every day with minimal adverse affects. I know about a hundred or so of those people myself. There is no official guideline for children, though pretty much everyone but the cast of “Gilmore Girls” discourages rampant use among kids and adolescents.

So, what now? Well, the announcement is meant to be spook major brands and manufacturers into, ahem, voluntary action:

[W]e hope this can be a turning point for all to prevent the irresponsible addition of caffeine to food and beverages. Together, we should be immediately looking at what voluntary restraint can be used by industry as FDA gets the right regulatory boundaries and conditions in place. I’m hopeful that industry will step up.

And, on what science would this voluntary action be based? Eh, it’s sort of a gut feeling at this point, as the FDA admits, but why not restrict your freedoms preemptively?

But we believe that some in the food industry are on a dubious, potentially dangerous path. If necessary, and if the science indicates that
it is warranted, we are prepared to go through the regulatory process to establish clear boundaries and conditions on caffeine use.

Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, addressed age limits specifically, but not in a very reassuring way for those of us who dig the freedom given he also references “clear boundaries and conditions,” and some bannings: “We are also prepared
to consider enforcement action against individual products as appropriate.”

We have to be practical; enforcing age restrictions would be challenging. For me, the more fundamental questions are whether it is appropriate
to use foods that may be inherently attractive and accessible to children as the vehicle to deliver the stimulant caffeine and whether we should place
limits on the amount of caffeine in certain products.

Both the FDA and Atlantic writer James Hamblin have an interesting take on how government regulation is supposed to work. Here’s Hamblin, echoing the FDA’s odd statement that the “only time FDA explicitly approved adding caffeine was for colas in the 1950s.”

The only time the FDA explicitly approved adding caffeine to anything was for use in colas in the 1950s, not long after increased caffeine replaced coca extract in soda — coca Coke having been implicated in a string of rapes. Much as the Second Amendment did not anticipate M45 Quadmount anti-aircraft machine guns, that mid-century caffeine allowance by the FDA was not meant to speak to today’s energy drinks: Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Monster, Full Throttle, CHARGE!, Neurogasm, Hardcore Energize Bullet, Facedrink, Eruption, Crakshot, Crave, Crunk, DynaPep, Rage Inferno, SLAP, and Venom Death Adder. Not to mention caffeinated water, gum, lip balm, socks (probably in development), etc.

As with guns, whether regulators like it or not, Americans are actually allowed to do a bunch of things without the government explicitly telling us we can. In fact, the default position in the land of the free is supposed to be that we can do all the things we’re not explicitly prohibited from doing. I realize many nanny-staters would like it to be the other way around, but as of now, we still require lists of things we can’t do (though that list is sadly growing exponentially), not an assumption that we’re not allowed to do anything until you tell us we can.

So, I’m off to add caffeine to my caffeine and then add that to my malt beverage. Because I can.

Update: Ahh, they’re already falling into line. Pathetic.

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Comments

Gee, pretty soon someone is going to think to outlaw seeds… oh, wait…

UnderstandingisPower on May 8, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Nanny statists make me puke…..

Scrumpy on May 8, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Time to go toss some tea again!

HornetSting on May 8, 2013 at 10:08 PM

next they will want to tax the very breath I exhale…….

Scrumpy on May 8, 2013 at 10:09 PM

GTFO of my effing life, Nannystate!

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:09 PM

They’ll take my Mountain Dew from my cold, dead hands.

Steve Eggleston on May 8, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Is the FDA heading toward age limits on caffeine products?

Is there an age limit on abortion?

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Don’t mess with my Diet Pepsi.

gophergirl on May 8, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Smart move, Stateists, go after guns and coffee. What, apple pie and hamburgers are on the agenda for next year, or maybe owning a dog? You fools just don’t know when to quit.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Mary Katharine Ham

…she looked GOOD on BOR last night!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Don’t mess with my Diet Pepsi.

gophergirl on May 8, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Obama’s heroic, transformable, icon is on the Pepsi can..

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Smart move, Stateists, go after guns and coffee. What, apple pie and hamburgers are on the agenda for next year, or maybe owning a dog? You fools just don’t know when to quit.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 10:13 PM

How did you guess?

Steve Eggleston on May 8, 2013 at 10:14 PM

…I want my morning after pill!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Hills Bros, Mrs. Olsen to be put in same prison as Youtube Islam-mocker.

whatcat on May 8, 2013 at 10:15 PM

2020……you read the Progressive vision here first.

BREAKING NEWS

The FDA today announced a new health chip will be available for stocking on grocery shelves in time for the Summer picnic season. The new chips contain all food groups plus additional protein. The chips are the result of advanced harvesting techniques at the Soylent Green Farms and Research Centers. The new chips will also be available for school lunch programs and retirement centers.

It’s a whole new America…….fundamentally transformed.

PappyD61 on May 8, 2013 at 10:15 PM

FDA + F–king Dumb Asses.

VorDaj on May 8, 2013 at 10:17 PM

“I think there are times we should limit your freedoms … ”

Mayor (guess who ? )

listens2glenn on May 8, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Is the FDA heading toward age limits on caffeine products?

Is there an age limit on abortion?
Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:11 PM

The upside is that children won’t have to endure the horror of washing down the abortion pill with a cup of that evil coffee.

whatcat on May 8, 2013 at 10:18 PM

FDA + F–king Dumb Asses.

VorDaj on May 8, 2013 at 10:17 PM

In new math…
We call that a cluster fluck…

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

I had to show my ID to buy some cold meds yesterday, and I was b*tching to the Pharm. tech.It a weird world where a teenager can get an abortion pill-not questions asked-but @ 42, I’ve got to show ID to buy Coricidin.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

That Orwell guy sure was on to something

Jackalope on May 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

I suppose none of the retards running the FDA have ever heard of “Irish Coffee?”

TKindred on May 8, 2013 at 10:20 PM

I’m dreaming of a land that is free.

JellyToast on May 8, 2013 at 10:20 PM

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

It’s…no.
Need caffeine.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Is the FDA heading toward age limits on caffeine products?

Age limits on caffeine? Absolutely.

Age limits on Plan-B? Nope, too ‘arbitrary.’

Resist We Much on May 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM

TKindred on May 8, 2013 at 10:20 PM

MMMMM, Irish Coffee!

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:22 PM

I had to show my ID to buy some cold meds yesterday….

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Then you don’t look like Killary….
:)

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Wait, I forgot about toilet paper, need to regulate that too. Then the revo will truly begin.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Terrific,

I’ve been giving Tea,to my grand kids,and it looks like
I’m gonna get charged with Child Abuse!
(sarc)

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:24 PM

The FDA today announced a new health chip will be available for stocking on grocery shelves in time for the Summer picnic season. The new chips contain all food groups plus additional protein. The chips are the result of advanced harvesting techniques at the Soylent Green Farms and Research Centers. The new chips will also be available for school lunch programs and retirement centers.

It’s a whole new America…….fundamentally transformed.

PappyD61 on May 8, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Probably only a few years out.

YouTube: Grocery shopping analytics
.

tetriskid on May 8, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Terrific,

I’ve been giving Tea,to my grand kids,and it looks like
I’m gonna get charged with Child Abuse!
(sarc)

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:24 PM

My Friend..

You live in Canada..
Not Unicorn poopin liberal land..

Us down here..
We have some cleaning to do..

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:26 PM

First added caffeine, next Bacon.
Everytime you elect a democrat one more fun thing is taken away from you.

LincolntheHun on May 8, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Wait, I forgot about toilet paper, need to regulate that too. Then the revo will truly begin.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Bishop: Sheryl Crow is that you!:)
(sarc)

Sheryl Crow says limit one square per sitting
*********************************************

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8dtz8Ku5Uw

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:27 PM

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that caffeine, for lack of a better word, is good. Caffeine is right, caffeine works. Caffeine clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Curtiss on May 8, 2013 at 10:28 PM

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:24 PM

My Friend..

You live in Canada..
Not Unicorn poopin liberal land..

Us down here..
We have some cleaning to do..

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Electrongod:

Good point,but yur Lefties might pass it in the UN,
and have International Law,and my *ss would get,

Renditioned,haha,er,ahem!:)

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:30 PM

and have International Law,and my *ss would get,

Renditioned,haha,er,ahem!:)

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:30 PM

I forgot about the UN..

Electrongod on May 8, 2013 at 10:36 PM

You rethuglicans are disgusting. As Bill O’Reilly has made clear over and over again, the state must intervene because some parents are negligent. What do you want? Your kids, in a pile, belching out fogs of Dr. Pepper foam, and sugar-highed? –Next stop: Meth.

Axe on May 8, 2013 at 10:40 PM

What do you want? Your kids, in a pile, belching out fogs of Dr. Pepper foam, and sugar-highed? –Next stop: Meth.
Axe on May 8, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Or even worse – Lee Harvey Oswald was a big Dr. Pepper drinker (really). Think about it.

whatcat on May 8, 2013 at 10:51 PM

First they came for caffeine……

So why not ban all sugary drinks, close coffee houses too. After the Progressives ban that then they can ban motorcycles, and carrots and all sharply shaped food items (choking hazards). And then cars should be banned and we should all ride city busses or subways. And then what about all the waste in drive-thrus where people idle their big SUVs belching the fumes out into the atmosphere…..and then…..

PappyD61 on May 8, 2013 at 10:54 PM

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 10:30 PM

It’s funny, the times I’ve been to Canada I couldn’t get Mountain Dew with caffeine in it… blech Now that Canada removed the ban, our lefties want to start one…

Gianni on May 8, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Caffeine? Caffeine? BANNING FREAK’N CAFFEINE?

Time to defund the entire freaking FDA!

[rants bleeped to keep from getting banned]

Tony Stark has an ego smaller than these jerks.

“Software developers are organisms that convert caffeine into code.”

dominigan on May 8, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Oh, and trust me… I had some really good rants that really would have gotten me banned.

I literally don’t know any developers who don’t use caffeine as a regular part of their day. Ban it and US innovation in software will go down the drain faster than multiple EMP bursts over the entire US.

dominigan on May 8, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Can’t wait for that directive from FDA announcing that Starbucks has been named an enemy of mankind….for the children, of course.

When every life style choice that brings pleasure has been denounced, been declared detrimental to life and limb, and we are all considered “counter-revolutionaries”, life will start to get interesting; and the life-expectancy of an FDA employee will approach that of a USMC Shave-tail in ‘Nam – and they were more useful.

Another Drew on May 8, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Mary Katharine Ham

…she looked GOOD on BOR last night!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 10:14 PM

MKH always looks good

AZfederalist on May 8, 2013 at 11:16 PM

When was the last time this damn government actually did something to advance the cause of liberty for Americans?

jawkneemusic on May 8, 2013 at 11:22 PM

Age limits on caffeine? Absolutely.

Age limits on Plan-B? Nope, too ‘arbitrary.’

Resist We Much on May 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM

That was my first thought.

Need parental supervision for caffeine or to take Tylenol in school, don’t need adult supervision for high doses of hormones or other forms of birth control.

taznar on May 8, 2013 at 11:23 PM

pill to kill a baby is fine for the kids but not caffine? Are these people insane.

The founders had it 100% correct chain the government before they chain you.

unseen on May 9, 2013 at 12:59 AM

They have too much time and too much money on their hands! When will this madness end.

PattyJ on May 9, 2013 at 1:48 AM

Kill your baby?? Nooooo limits.

Keep yourself awake? MUST REGULATE!!!!!!!!

TX-96 on May 9, 2013 at 6:36 AM

A little off topic but…a 15 year old girl and a 60 year old man walk into a pharmacy. The girl thinks she is pregnant, goes to the aisle where the morning after pill is readily available and with no parental supervision or oversight or permission required per FDA, buys a few of the miracle pills and gobbles them down. Problem solved. The 60 year old man thinks he has ED, knows what he needs but the FDA says, “Nope, you’re an adult but first you need to jump through hoops first.” So, he must first go to his physician, ask for a script, drive to a pharmacy, and ask a second person to fill the script for the blue miracle pill. The 15 year old leaves the pharmacy without as much as waving to a pharmacist and takes her morning after pill and a package of Skittles and bubble gum while the 60 year old waits with the great unwashed for his regulated medication. Yea, this makes sense.

stop2think on May 9, 2013 at 6:54 AM

they own you

james23 on May 9, 2013 at 6:56 AM

But let’s put aspartame in milk. That’s ok.

vcferlita on May 9, 2013 at 7:45 AM

I had to show my ID to buy some cold meds yesterday, and I was b*tching to the Pharm. tech.It a weird world where a teenager can get an abortion pill-not questions asked-but @ 42, I’ve got to show ID to buy Coricidin.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Indeed.

But let’s put aspartame in milk. That’s ok.

vcferlita on May 9, 2013 at 7:45 AM

We put lots of stuff in food that Nature didn’t include.
I support PROMINENT LABELLING of potentially harmful ingredients (and excess caffeine can be a problem for children because of the weight-to-dosage ratio*), but this kind of contradictory micro-managing is insane.

*

Caffeine is a drug because it has an effect on the body. It acts as a stimulant, which means it speeds up the brain and nervous system. This isn’t a bad thing for older generations that need a little pick-me-up, but what effect is it having on our kids? Headaches, jitteriness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure are all side effects that can occur when caffeine is consumed in excess. Caffeine’s effects are dependent on body weight and tolerance. This puts younger children at greater risk. The smaller the body and the less exposure to caffeine, the greater the effect it has. It takes up to six hours for caffeine to be released from the body through urine, so side effects may last up to six hours….Besides decreasing attention span, caffeine also can cause muscle tremors, nervousness and difficulty sleeping. All of these impact a child’s ability to interact effectively while at school.

Caffeine also takes a toll on a child’s physical health. Caffeine can act as a diuretic (causing loss of fluid) and lessen appetite. Decrease in appetite and increase in urination can cause kids to become undernourished and dehydrated.

AesopFan on May 9, 2013 at 8:06 AM

As for the caffeine, it has no effect on either of my children, and the 17yo wishes it would. Not that they are drinking multiple liters of Dew or Coke in a day anyway. It’s been used successfully for ADD for years, and has an infinitely better safety profile than ritalin, adderal, etc. I guess the FDA prefers kids on more dangerous medicines so that they can “regulate” it.

And of course, there are a fair few children out there (and adults) who can’t take aspartame because of PKU, it’s always listed as a warning on products with aspartame. So I guess we don’t want our kids with PKU to drink milk anymore? And then we can charge their parents with neglect!

Time to buy those goats I’ve been joking about for a few years now.

LibraryGryffon on May 9, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Ban all things except abortion for teens.

Grunt on May 9, 2013 at 8:35 AM

No wonder that in a recent poll 29% of the public see armed revolt as a possibility…I’m frankly amazed it’s not higher…

PatriotRider on May 9, 2013 at 8:52 AM

So a 12-year old girl can’t have a cup of coffee, but she can have an abortion pill?

AZCoyote on May 9, 2013 at 9:47 AM

AesopFan on May 9, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Even assuming that that is fully accurate (it’s not caffeine is a disinhibitor not a stimulant)
I fail to see how that makes it a concern of the government, children eat less as well.

Slowburn on May 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

It’s not entirely a surprise. When the FDA was first created it went after Coke for having caffeine in it, and not having cocaine in it (which, had it actually had would have also made it illegal).

The whole point of the Progressive movement has been to regulate everyone’s lives For the Greater Good!

Voyager on May 9, 2013 at 5:54 PM