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YOUR SOURCE ON FOOD LITIGATION AND REGULATION

Confirming what coffee and tea connoisseurs have long known, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January declared that 400mg of caffeine per day is not a safety concern. A 98-page draft assessment indicates the same for a single dose of up to 200mg for adults ages 18–65, even when consumed less than two hours before strenuous exercise. For pregnant women, caffeine intakes of up to 200mg per day additionally raised no safety concerns. And, finally, for all junior coffee lovers (ages 3–18), a dose of 3mg per kg of body weight per day is considered safe. Although the report confirmed that a dose of 100mg may affect sleep patterns, the report’s overall message appears to show that European regulators may be less concerned with caffeine intake than their U.S. counterparts.

As food industry observers know, caffeine has become an increasingly hot topic in U.S. food regulation. For example, the Institute of Medicine conducted a 2013 workshop on caffeine in food and dietary supplements that presented statements, recommendations, and opinions of individual participants on (1) regulation of caffeine in the United States, (2) intake and exposure to caffeine, (3) safety signals and surveillance, (4) safe caffeine exposure levels for vulnerable populations, (5) caffeine’s effects on the cardiovascular system, (6) caffeine’s effects on the central nervous system and behavioral effects associated with caffeine consumption, and (7) other compounds impacting caffeine’s effects.

At the same time that the summary of the workshop was released, FDA issued a press release concerning the workshop in which it praised the workshop and supporting documents and reiterated its interest in caffeinated products. Noting its particular concern with cumulative caffeine effects in vulnerable populations (children, adolescents, etc.), FDA also indicated that it will continue to investigate adverse event reports for energy drinks and other caffeinated products with an emphasis on protecting public safety. Industry observers will recall the FDA’s increasing interest in caffeinated supplements, alcoholic beverages, and other foods to which caffeine has been added, including when FDA issued a series of warning letters to marketers of alcoholic caffeinated beverages in 2010.

The recent EFSA report, however, is good news for those worried about the health effects of the next cup a’ joe, and the report’s findings should prove valuable to companies that wish to market caffeinated products to an increasingly health-conscious public.

Parties interested in commenting on the report should submit feedback to the EFSA by March 15.