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Too much caffeine in kids' foods worries the FDA

By Mary Clare Jalonick

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 30 2013 11:14 a.m. MDT

"Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next?" said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which asked the FDA to look into the number of foods with added caffeine last year. "One serving of any of these foods isn't likely to harm anyone. The concern is that it will be increasingly easy to consume caffeine throughout the day, sometimes unwittingly, as companies add caffeine to candies, nuts, snacks and other foods. "

Taylor said the agency would look at the added caffeine in its totality — while one product might not cause adverse effects, the increasing number of caffeinated products on the market, including drinks, could mean more adverse health effects for children.

Last November, the FDA said it had received 92 reports over four years that cited illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consumption of an energy shot marketed as 5-Hour Energy. The FDA said it had also received reports that cited the highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink in several deaths.

Agency officials said then that the reports to the FDA from consumers, doctors and others don't necessarily prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries but said they were investigating each one. In February, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg again stressed that reports to the agency of adverse events related to energy drinks did not necessarily suggest a causal effect.

FDA officials said they would take action if they could link the deaths to consumption of the energy drinks, including forcing the companies to take the products off the market.

In 2010, the agency forced manufacturers of alcoholic caffeinated beverages to cease production of those drinks. The agency said the combination of caffeine and alcohol could lead to a "wide-awake drunk" and has led to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.

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