By Gregory B. Hladky
5:01 PM EDT, May 10, 2013
The anti-caffeination movement (which includes Connecticut's ever-energetic U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal) seems to have scored a mini-victory.
Wrigley has announced that it's pulling (at least for now) its "Alert Energy Caffeine Gum" from the store shelves. The trigger for this decision was an FDA investigation into all kinds of heavily caffeinated candy, snack foods and drinks, as well as talks between Wrigley officials and the feds.
Blumenthal quickly issued a press release saying that "Wrigley made the right choice" but also warning there are lots of other types of energy drinks and stuff that he says are "highly caffeinated, mislabeled and marketed to children."
Connecticut's junior senator got heavily involved in the caffeination issue because of a threat by Monster Beverage to take legal action against a Connecticut nutritionist. Dr. Deb Kennedy wrote in a school newsletter warning that caffeinated energy drinks are dangerous for children and warned kids never to drink them.
Monster wanted a retraction. Kennedy sought help from Blumenthal, who joined with some other congressional types to pressure Monster to back off. The multi-billion-dollar beverage company hasn't filed suit against Kennedy (who refuses to back off her statements) but is suing the city attorney for San Francisco for making similar claims.
Meanwhile, the right-wing "Americans for Limited Government" group is denouncing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's investigation into highly caffeinated foods and drinks.
"The federal government has absolutely no role, none, in governing age restrictions on purchasing products," the organization's general counsel, Nathan Mehrens intoned. He argues that that kind of stuff has always been handled at the state level.
Mehrens warned that, if this sort of thing is allowed to continue, "agencies like the FDA will eventually come to regulate every aspect of life."
Of course, a number of medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued their own warnings about the hazards for children who consume too much caffeine through these types of foods and drinks.
The caffeination industry insists there's no danger, but at least one civil suit charges that a Maryland teenager's death was linked to consumption of high-caffeination drinks.
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