Wrigley halts production of caffeinated gum

photo courtesy Wrigley

photo courtesy Wrigley

(CNN) — Wrigley has decided to stop production, sales and marketing of their new caffeinated gum, the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.

The company’s decision follows meetings with the FDA to discuss the government agency’s concerns about the effect the gum has on children and adolescents.

Alert Energy Caffeine Gum was introduced earlier this month by Wrigley, a division of Mars Inc. One piece contains 40 mg of caffeine, the same amount found in a half cup of coffee.

The gum comes in two flavors: mint and fruit. When it’s chewed, the caffeine is released into your saliva. Some some gets swallowed as if you were drinking coffee or a soda; some is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the cheeks and under the tongue.

“The FDA applauds Wrigley’s decision and its recognition that we need to improve understanding and, as needed, strengthen the regulatory framework governing the appropriate levels and uses of caffeine in foods and beverages,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “The company’s action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint.”

Wrigley was only the latest company to introduce caffeinated chewing gum; a number are already on the market. The company released a statement about their decision to stop production.

“When Wrigley launched Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, we took great strides to ensure that the product was formulated, distributed and marketed in a safe and responsible way to consumers 25 years old and over,” Wrigley President Casey Keller said. “After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation’s food supply. There is a need for changes in the regulatory framework to better guide the consumers and the industry about the appropriate level and use of caffeinated products.”

In recent years, controversy has also swirled around energy drinks, which also contain caffeine. In November, the FDA began investigating 13 deaths preliminarily linked to the dietary supplement 5-Hour Energy.

The deaths had been reported to the FDA as “adverse events,” which does not mean that the product is responsible for or that it contributed to any health issue.

The manufacturer, packer or distributor of a dietary supplement is required to notify the FDA of any adverse events linked to its product, according to agency spokeswoman Tamara Ward. That requirement does not apply to products sold as beverages or food.

Taylor said the agency looks forward to working with industry leaders “to address the issues posed by added caffeine in foods and beverages.”



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