The FDA is interested in investigating energy shots and energy gum. Too many school kids are chewing energy gum and wolfing down energy shots because they equate energy with smarts on exams or with increased memory. But in reality, energy from caffeine is only stimulation of their nervous systems, sometimes to the point of anxiety, stress, and a racing pulse, just at a time they need to be calm and think. Some energy shots may contain arsenic, says a recent study, according to the February 16, 2012 news release, “Organic foods may be an unsuspected source of dietary arsenic.”
You can buy caffeinated potato chips, for example, “NRG Phoenix Fury Potato Chips – The New Breed of Energy.” And you can buy caffeinated trail mix. Check out, “FDA to investigate added caffeine in trail mix, gum, other foods.” Top that off with caffeinated gum, and put them all together, and what do you get? An investigation by the FDA. See, “FDA to investigate added caffeine in trail mix, gum, other foods.” Somehow, the caffeinated snacks, meant for adults, probably will end up in the mouths of teenagers and children. The caffeine adds up. That could spell trouble for individuals of any age.
Today, the issue is energy gum and kids, according to the April 30, 2013 news article, “Energy gum prompts FDA review of caffeine in food.” The most addictive foods such as gum, sodas, and candy that attract children and teenagers now have caffeine added to some brands advertised as energy shots, energy drinks, energy bars, and energy gum. Why are energy foods called ‘energy’ instead of caffeinated foods?
Or caffeine stimulation foods? For some people, energy is not what they feel, but panic, tremors, and anxiety is what they experience from ingesting caffeine, including hyperventilation syndrome for those predisposed to become overstimulated by caffeine at any amount.
Kids soon find that out– the results of over-stimulation of the central nervous system–if they try any type of energy candy bar or other snack food. Some people get panic attacks from caffeinated snacks. See, “Three Foods Shown to Trigger Anxiety and Panic Attacks – Yahoo.” The three foods are caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. It’s a frightening scenario to imagine someone chewing caffeinated gum, snacking on caffeinated potato chips and trail mix and then gulping caffeinated energy drinks…and then trying to relax, de-stress, or perform calmly and accurately on an exam or while driving when the central nervous system is over-stimulated to the point of frenzy, fear, or rage.
That’s right. There’s caffeine rage, anger out of control and perhaps violent. See, “Caffeine in Coffee Makes One Prone to ‘Coffee Rage’ | Medindia.” Check out, “Red Bull rage prompts Korean student’s deportation – Nova Scotia.” You may want to see the video, “Greg Moss’ caffeine rage part 1 – YouTube.”
How much domestic violence ensues from caffeine rage? It’s a feeling of anger, irritability, and aggressiveness, sometimes with a headache, and it’s called – caffeine rage.
The FDA’s new look at added caffeine and its effects on children and adolescents is in response to a caffeinated gum introduced the week of April 24, 2013 by Wrigley, the gum manufacturing company. The new energy gum is named “Alert Energy Gum.” The problem with mixing up the words alert with energy and linking it to caffeine, is that caffeine is a stimulant that can have kids bouncing off the walls, nervous, hyperactive, and tense.
For some children with genetic predispositions, it can cause irregular heart beats or a racing pulse when the child is at rest. It’s mental energy the kid wants, not nervousness, panic attacks and anxiety or restlessness. Kids with under-aroused nervous systems, might find it brings their energy level up to what is supposed to be normal. But most kids don’t have severely under-aroused central nervous systems that need stimulation. What a child needs is enough hours of sleep.
The new gum promises “right energy, right now.” At last the FDA is investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death.
Gum labeled for adult use only attracts teenagers and children
Wrigley and other companies adding caffeine to their products have labeled them as for adult use only. Some kids are uninformed enough to think chewing gum is used for birth control. It’s surprising how much misinformation kids have about energy drinks, energy gum, bars, or candy.
If the gum is for adults only, and each piece contains about 40 mg, or the equivalent amount of caffeine found in half a cup of coffee, kids can get the gum from other family members or friends and relatives of friends. Wrigley will be working with the FDA. It’s just too easy for children to get access to energy drinks or gum, especially at parties in the homes of their friends.
Food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods such as energy food varieties of Jelly Belly and Extreme Sport Beans, for example, which have 50 mg of caffeine in each 100-calorie pack. Trail mix brands such as Arma Energy Snx markets trail mix, chips and other products that have caffeine can too easily fall into the hands of children and teenagers and play havoc with their central nervous systems as stimulants. Check out the April 29, 2013 news article, “Wrigley Energy Gum Prompts FDA Review of Some Caffeinated Foods.” A Mars Inc. Wrigley chewing gum with added caffeine has sparked U.S. regulators to review how food with the added stimulant affects children.
The introduction today of Alert Energy gum is the latest in a line of foods that have added caffeine, Michael Taylor, the Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a statement on the agency’s website. The only time the FDA approved added caffeine in food was for cola in the 1950s he said, according to the Business Week article, “Wrigley Energy Gum Prompts FDA Review of Some Caffeinated Foods.” Lat year the FDA began investigating caffeinated energy drinks such as those made by Monster Beverage Corp. (MNST) and Living Essentials LLC that have been linked to deaths and dangerous side effects. See the articles, “Monster Energy Drink Cited in Deaths – The New York Times,” and “More Deaths, Illness Linked to Energy Drinks – WebMD.”
Deaths and energy drinks
The FDA has posted adverse-event reports for two more energy drinks: 40 illnesses and five deaths linked to Monster Energy, and 13 illnesses and two lasting disabilities linked to Rockstar Energy, according to the article, “More Deaths, Illness Linked to Energy Drinks – WebMD.” The new reports follow a revelation of FDA reports linking 92 illnesses and 13 deaths to 5-Hour Energy shots. The FDA previously said it was investigating the deaths linked to Monster Energy. So what happens now that energy gum is on the market?
Do parents read adverse-event reports (AERs) filed by patients, families, or doctors? The reports don’t actually prove that the product caused harm. The FDA can remove a product from the market only when investigation shows that the product causes harm when used according to the product label. If someone has an adverse reaction or allergy to a product and most people don’t, there’s not much that can be done any more than if one kid dies from eating shellfish or a peanut.
The rest of the world continues to eat shellfish and peanuts. The FDA must first find a relationship between consumption of the product and harm. Otherwise, the FDA can’t do much to reduce or eliminate the risk, or can it? Then again, the squeaky wheel gets heard. Another issue with some organic foods and energy products is the dietary arsenic in some of them.
Organic foods may be an unsuspected source of dietary arsenic
As people seek healthier dietary regimens they often turn to things labeled “organic.” Lurking in the background, however, is an ingredient that may be a hidden source of arsenic—an element known to be both toxic and potentially carcinogenic.
Organic brown rice syrup has become a preferred alternative to using high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener in food. High fructose corn syrup has been criticized as a highly processed substance that is more harmful than sugar and is a substantial contributor to epidemic obesity. Unfortunately, organic brown rice syrup is not without its faults.
Dartmouth researchers and others have previously called attention to the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice, and organic brown rice syrup may be the latest culprit on the scene.
With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the savvy consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the danger, Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.
The results were alarming. One of the infant formulas had a total arsenic concentration of six times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safe drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for total arsenic. Cereal bars and high-energy foods using organic brown rice syrup also had higher arsenic concentrations than those without the syrup.
Jackson,director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth and a member of the college’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) ‑funded Superfund Research Program, is lead author on the study published February 16, 2012, in Environmental Health Perspectives. His collaborators include researchers in Dartmouth’s EPA and NIEHS‑funded Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center. Jackson and his colleagues purchased commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup and compared them with similar products that didn’t contain the syrup.
Seventeen infant formulas, 29 cereal bars, and 3 energy “shots” were all purchased from local stores in the Hanover, N.H., area
Of the 17 infant milk formulas tested, only two had listed organic brown rice syrup as the primary ingredient. These two formulas, one dairy-based and one soy-based, were extremely high in arsenic, more than 20 times greater than the other formulas. The amount of inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form, averaged 8.6 ppb for the dairy based formula and 21.4 ppb for the soy formula. This is of concern because these concentrations are comparable to, or greater than, the current U.S. drinking water limit of 10 ppb, and that limit does not account for the low body weight of infants and the corresponding increase in arsenic consumption per kilogram of body weight.
The Dartmouth College researchers also tested 29 cereal bars and three types (flavors) of an energy product obtained from a supermarket. Twenty-two of the bars listed at least one of four rice products—organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice grain, and rice flakes—in the first five ingredients. The cereal bars ranged from 8 to 128 ppb in total arsenic; those that had no rice ingredients were lowest in arsenic and ranged from 8 to 27 ppb, while those that did contain a rice ingredient ranged from 23 to 128 ppb total arsenic.
With recent news coverage of the potential for rice to contain arsenic, educated consumers may be aware that cereal/energy bars containing rice ingredients could also contain arsenic.
The authors note that, “By contrast the energy shots are gel-like blocks and, like the infant formulas, it would not be immediately apparent to the consumer that these too are rice-based products,” according to the February 16, 2012 news release, “Organic foods may be an unsuspected source of dietary arsenic.” One of the three flavors of energy shots tested revealed about 84 ppb total arsenic (100 percent inorganic arsenic), while the other two showed 171 ppb total arsenic (53 percent inorganic arsenic).
Jackson and his colleagues conclude that in the face of the increasing prevalence of hidden arsenic in food, and the absence of U. S. regulations in this area, “there is an urgent need for regulatory limits on arsenic in food.”