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FDA: how much caffeine is safe to consume?

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With caffeine added to more products like gum and oatmeal, Food and Drug Administration researches announced they would conduct a study on how much caffeine is too much, especially for kids and teens.

Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA, said that the agency's major concern is products that are attractive and available to children, like gum or jelly beans.

He spoke about "wired" waffles, and syrups the manufacturers add caffeine to for its stimulant effect.

"The proliferation of these products in the marketplace is very disturbing to us," he said.

He said the FDA's first step would be to answer the question of how much damage excess caffeine consumption could cause for children, teens and young adults. FDA set the safe level for caffeine at 400 grams a day, but the agency may have to revisit this number, Taylor said.

He added that manufacturers now can put caffeine into products if they decide it meets the relevant safety standards, and include it on the ingredient list.

"The only time FDA explicitly approved adding caffeine was for colas in the 1950s," said Taylor.

According to the FDA, setting age limits for buying caffeinated products might be challenging, but the agency would determine the cause of action based on the study's results.

"If necessary, and if the science indicates that it is warranted, we are prepared to go through the regulatory process to establish clear boundaries and conditions on caffeine use," Taylor said.

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