Wrigley: Maybe We Won't Sell Caffeinated Gum After All

By Nancy Shute

May 9, 2013

Less than two weeks after launching its Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, the Wrigley Company decided that maybe the world wasn't ready for amped-up chewing gum after all.

On April 30, the day after Alert Energy launched, the Food and Drug Administration said it was going to take a "fresh look" at caffeinated foods, particularly their effect on children and teenagers.

Being out front on caffeinated confections evidently wasn't a comfortable place to be.

Yesterday, the Wrigley Co. said it has "paused" sales of Alert Energy, which came in brightly-colored packages. Each pellet of gum contained 40 milligrams of caffeine, about the amount in a half-cup of coffee.

"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply," Casey Keller, Wrigley's president for North America, said in a statement.

Keller called for "changes in the regulatory framework to better guide the consumers and the industry about the appropriate level and use of caffeinated products."

The surge of caffeinated energy drink and, to a lesser extent, food products, has alarmed pediatricians. In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics said that children and teenagers should avoid caffeinated drinks, since caffeine boosts heart rate, interferes with sleep, and increases anxiety.

Alert Energy was marketed "in a safe and responsible manner to consumers 25 years and older," Keller's statement said.

No word on how that might have been enforced, since nobody's carding kids who buy gum at the local mini-mart.

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