HIGHLY CAFFEINATED PEANUT BUTTER HAS HIT THE SHELVES & POSES REAL DANGER TO CHILDREN & EVEN ADULTS; ONE SERVING DELIVERS SUPER CONCENTRATION OF CAFFEINE; FDA WARNED ABOUT 40 MGS IN GUM—PEANUT BUTTER HAS 170 MGS PER SERVING; SENATOR URGES FDA TO INVESTIGATE PRODUCT

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U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to immediately investigate a new potentially dangerous product that is hitting store shelves: caffeinated peanut butter. Scooping just a single serving of the product, dubbed “STEEM Peanut Butter,” delivers the same amount of caffeine as two caffeine-concentrated Red Bulls (over 16oz). In fact, one serving, or two tablespoons of the product contains five times more caffeine per serving than a single can of Coke. Schumer is raising concerns about the product because it may pose a major health threat to children and even adults. Schumer explained that because caffeine is a powerful stimulant, unsafe amounts can cause adverse symptoms like increased heart rate and blood pressure and an overdose of caffeine can be fatal.

 

Schumer said that this new product goes where no other product has gone before: straight to the mainstay snack isle. Schumer said peanut butter is a mainstay snack for children and a product consumed in over 94% of American households. Allowing STEEM to go unchecked by the FDA could pose a danger to consumers across the board, Schumer said. Moreover, Schumer said it is even scarier to think about what might happen if a child unknowingly ate an entire sandwich made of caffeinated peanut butter; just one sandwich could contain more caffeine than two cups of coffee. Schumer is urging the FDA to take immediate action on caffeinated peanut butter and went on to say that the FDA should investigate the use of caffeine in all food products, as its addition has become an increasing trend among manufacturers. Schumer further warned that other larger peanut butter brands and other snack makers are likely taking note of the FDA’s response to caffeinated peanut butter, a regulation benchmark that could set a new standard within the larger snack food industry.

 

“Parents across the country shouldn’t have to worry about a scenario in which their child might unknowingly bite into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that contains more caffeine than two cups of coffee. The thought of super caffeinated peanut butter should give everyone the jitters because of the potential health threat it poses, especially in the hands of children and teenagers. The FDA should take immediate action and investigate whether this caffeinated food product should be pulled from shelves,” said Senator Schumer.

 

“To think that peanut butter, one of the snacks most closely associated with children, might have to be stored in the medicine cabinet as opposed to the kitchen cabinet should serve as a jolt to the FDA. This caffeinated peanut butter should spur the agency to address the issue of caffeine being added to everyday food products and the effect that will have on the health of consumers and children,” the Senator added.

 

Schumer went on to say that the FDA has stepped in and prevented other caffeinated products from hitting store shelves. For instance, in 2013, Wrigley  pulled its caffeinated gum “Alert Energy” from store shelves (40mg of caffeine per stick) after the FDA voiced concerns. In his letter, Schumer today said that the FDA should take immediate action and investigate the use of caffeine in all food products.

 

STEEM peanut butter is easy to purchase and an 8-oz jar costs $5.99 in stores. According to STEEM, one serving, or two tablespoons, of their peanut butter contains 170mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to approximately two cups of coffee. The entire jar contains 1200 mg of caffeine, roughly 16 cups of coffee. While the FDA requires that added caffeine be listed as an ingredient, it does not require or confirm the amount of caffeine to be included on a product label. Schumer says this too is a problem because consumers have to take the company’s word as fact.

 

According to the FDA, the average adult has an intake of 200 mg of caffeine per day, the amount in two 5-ounce cups of coffee. The FDA reports that a safe amount of daily caffeine for an adult is 4-5 cups of coffee or 400 mg of caffeine. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),  while caffeine has been shown to enhance physical performance in adults, these effects are extremely variable, dose dependent, and most importantly, have not been thoroughly studied in children and adolescents. The AAP discourages children and adolescents from having any caffeine because of the potentially harmful developmental and addictive effects of the stimulant.

 

Too much caffeine can cause people to become jittery, make their heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, cause headaches, cause dizziness, insomnia and more. A caffeine overdose can be fatal. According to the Mayo Clinic, a serving of STEEM peanut butter contains more caffeine than 8-ounces of coffee (163 mg), a 16-ounce latte (154 mg), a 8.4-ounce Red Bull (80 mg),or a 1.5 ounce Espresso (77 mg). A handheld shot of 5-Hour Energy (200 mg) contains just a little more caffeine per serving than STEEM peanut butter.

 

Schumer further said that caffeinated peanut butter could put children in danger if they reach for the product–either in their own kitchen or at a store– thinking it’s ordinary peanut butter or going off a dare. Schumer also noted that the label specifically says that the product is “not intended for dares, pranks, or hazing,” which suggests the product could be used for these very things. The makers have suggested that consumers “start slow and add more as they go” when eating the caffeinated peanut butter.

 

Schumer urged the FDA to specifically investigate the safety implications of using caffeine in peanut butter and determine whether the product should be pulled from shelves. Schumer explained the serious consequences this product may have on both adults and children.

 

Schumer has a strong record in working towards protecting New Yorkers from potential public health hazards. In 2011, Schumer urged the FDA to ban AeroShot, a caffeine inhaler that sends 100mgs of caffeine into the body. After Schumer’s push, the FDA issued warning letters to the makers of AeroShot for false statements in labeling their products. The FDA also expressed concern about the use of AeroShot by children and adolescents and in combination with alcohol. In 2010, after Schumer’s push, the FDA issued a rule banning alcoholic drinks that contain caffeine, like Four Loko.

 

A copy of Schumer’s letter is below:

 

Dear Acting Commissioner Ostroff:

 

I write to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the federal entity responsible for determining the safe use of food additives, to take immediate action and investigate the use and amounts of caffeine in food products. I know the FDA has been working to better understand caffeine consumption and to determine safe levels for total consumption. However, I believe this work should be expedited in light of the growing trend of caffeine added to food products, most recently caffeinated peanut better.

 

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that, when consumed in unsafe amounts, can cause an array of adverse symptoms like nervousness, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.  It can contribute to dehydration and can make heart problems or nerve disorders worse.

 

Caffeine’s addition to every day foods such as peanut butter is a growing trend that could potentially pose health risks to Americans, especially children. It is disturbing to think that a child could unknowingly consume a whole cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine – or more – with just one serving of caffeinated peanut butter. Currently, caffeine is generally recognized as safe in soft drinks up to a 0.02 percent, or 200 parts per million. However, a can of soda can contain less than half of the caffeine than a single serving of caffeinated peanut butter. We must do all we can to ensure that our food products do not pose an unknowing risk to children’s health if they consume caffeine in this new, potentially dangerous way.

 

According to the FDA, the average adult has an intake of 200 mg of caffeine per day, the amount in two 5-ounce cups of coffee. The FDA reports that a safe amount of daily caffeine for an adult is 4-5 cups of coffee or 400 mg of caffeine. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),  while caffeine has been shown to enhance physical performance in adults, these effects are extremely variable, dose dependent, and most importantly, have not been thoroughly studied in children and adolescents. The AAP discourages children and adolescents from having any caffeine because of the potentially harmful developmental and addictive effects of the stimulant.

 

I applaud the FDA’s oversight of the safety of food additives in the Unites States and your ongoing efforts to ensure that food in this country is safe for consumption. I strongly believe that the increased presence of caffeinated food products, especially peanut butter, should be subject to a thorough investigation. We must avoid exposing our families and children to the potential harmful effects that consuming caffeinated food may lead to.