Caffeinated gum pulled after FDA pressure

A line of caffeinated gum was pulled from production on Wednesday after a consultation with federal regulators who are investigating the safety of the added stimulant.

A week after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would look into the effect of caffeine additives in food, Wrigley halted sales, marketing and production of its Alert Energy Caffeine Gum.

"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, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in a statement sent to The Hill.

He added, "We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint."

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The announcement comes after a series of discussions between the FDA and the gum company "in which the agency expressed concerns about caffeine appearing in a range of new foods and beverages," according to Taylor's statement.

After consulting with the FDA, the gum producer has "a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation’s food supply," Casey Keller, president of Wrigley North America, said in a statement 

"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," he added, noting the pause in production was "an effort to support this process, and out of respect for the FDA" as it contemplates new rules. 

Last week, Taylor called the gum an "unfortunate example of the trend to add caffeine to food," and said the influx of caffeine in food products was "very disturbing to us."

He announced then that the FDA was opening an investigation into the effects of caffeine in an increasing array of food products and left open the door to future regulation.

The agency has not approved adding caffeine to foods or beverages since it was put into colas more than 50 years ago.

Updated at 5:50 p.m.