Senator Dick Durbin and other Democrats are asking energy drink companies not to market to children. The Illinois Democrat and his colleagues sent letters to 17 energy drink companies asking that they voluntarily list, on the label, the amount of caffeine in a product as well as any adverse events associated with consuming the drinks. Earlier this year, Senator Durbin co-authored a report entitled “What’s all the Buzz about?” which highlighted the inconsistencies in the labeling and classification of energy drinks. The report found high levels of caffeine in the energy drinks that exceeded what is considered safe in soda by the Food and Drug Administration. The report also found that adolescent consumers are frequent targets for the marketing pitches of energy drink companies. Product design and placement on store shelves help to create product images that appeal to children and teens.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Looking for a new way to get that jolt of caffeine energy? Food companies are betting snacks like potato chips, jelly beans and gum with a caffeinated kick could be just the answer.
The Food and Drug Administration is closely watching the marketing of these foods and wants to know more about their safety.
The FDA said Monday it will look at the foods' effects on children in response to a caffeinated gum introduced this week by Wrigley. Alert Energy Gum promises "the right energy, right now."
The agency is already investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death.
A few products that have added caffeine:
— Wrigley Alert Energy Gum contains about 40 milligrams a piece, or the equivalent amount found in half a cup of coffee.
— Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans have 50 mg of caffeine in a 100-calorie pack.
— Arma Energy Snx markets chips, trail mix and other products that contain caffeine, including "chocolate caramel cookie caffeine mix."
— Wired Waffles sells caffeinated maple syrup and "energy waffles."
— Some varieties of Frito-Lay's Cracker Jack'd Power Bites are coated wafers that include two tablespoons of ground coffee.
— Kraft's Mio Energy "water enhancer" squirts caffeine and flavoring into water.
The Democratic senator from Illinois sent a letter Monday to the CEOs of Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster asking for an explanation for the companies' sponsorship of sporting events that target children.
Durbin says the companies have often claimed they do not market their drinks to youngsters. But he says he is aware of multiple situations that contradict their claims.
Durbin cites several examples in his letter, including a high school football tournament and a motorcycle race for children as young as thirteen endorsed by Red Bull.
Durbin says his letter stems out of growing concerns during the past year about the potential health risks posed by energy drinks.