Today most people have no idea just how much caffeine they consume daily. That's because everything has some caffeine in it. Beverage, food and pharmaceutical products include caffeine as an ingredient -- even candy and chewing gum!
HIGHER CAFFEINE, MORE SALES, LESS ETHICS
Now, why do you suppose that is happening? People are addicted to caffeine, a legal central nervous system drug. It is the most popular drug in the world. If you are a manufacturer and want more and more people to buy your product, then adding higher and higher amounts of caffeine assures you're going to make sales.
The market is so great for caffeine products that there is much competition among the product niches. It's becoming a race to see who can add the most caffeine, who can give the biggest BUZZ, the most JITTERS -- aggressively and unethically marketed to teenagers.
It should be no surprise that more and more caffeine-abuse victims are arriving at the nation's emergency rooms.
A 2008 report from the University of Massachusetts Medical School noted 4,600 caffeine-related calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers in 2005, the most recent data available. More than half involved persons under 19, and 2,345 required treatment in a health care facility. That was four years ago and a lot of new caffeine-loaded products -- particularly energy drinks -- have hit the market since then, suggesting that statistics from the poison center and emergency rooms are many times higher today with caffeine-produced illnesses.
CAFFEINE IS POTENTIALLY LETHAL
Being young and healthy doesn't necessarily protect you from the dangers of caffeine. "There is a little bit of research that shows that up to five-to-ten grams (of caffeine) in somebody who is young and healthy, without any medical problems, could be potentially a lethal dose," said toxicologist Richard Church, one of the study's authors.
Rick Moldenhauer, a treatment services consultant with the Minnesota Dept. of Human Services, is particularly concerned with the caffeinated energy drinks, which "come packed with a punch ripe for abuse," he says and sometimes "astonishing levels of caffeine."
NO ANTIDOTE FOR CAFFEINE OVERDOSE
He has seen caffeine overdose victims arrive at an emergency room appearing as if they had schizophrenia or were methamphetamine users, as reported by the East Central Minnesota Post Review. When an ER patient has overdosed on a narcotic, Moldenhauer said, doctors have a powerful antidote to bring people out of their narcotic haze.
Take the energy drink "NOS." Its name reflects the high-performance qualities that nitrous oxide boosters give motor vehicles. The caffeine content of NOS is an unbelievable 1,125 mg of caffeine in one can. The nutrition label on NOS suggests a caffeine content of 375 mg, but that is for one serving. One bottle actually contains three servings.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions conducted a study , published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, showing that the way energy drinks are marketed and used places consumers at significant risk of caffeine intoxication.
"The caffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, yet the caffeine amounts are unlabeled and few include warnings about potential health risks of caffeine intoxication," said Roland Griffiths, study co-author.
ENERGY DRINKS ARE NOT SUPPLEMENTS
As reported by Natural News and noted by researchers, energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements rather than food products, therefore manufacturers are not required to disclose how much caffeine they contain.
Energy drink sales grew an average of 55 per cent annually from 2002 to 2006, bringing in an estimated $5.4 billion in 2006, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer goods market research company.Sales increased by 39.6 percent in 2006 and grew another 29.7 percent in 2007, according to Convenience Store News 2008 Mid-Term Forecast Study. The study projects total 2008 sales will increase 20 percent.
WHAT'S NEXT -- CAFFEINE IN GUM, POTATO CHIPS ?
Don't forget the food products that have caffeine as an ingredient.
Just this month Nestle Confections has launched its new candy bar "Butterfinger Buzz," supplemented with 80 milligrams of caffeine. What's next, caffeinated gum and potato chips? asks the Chicago Tribune. Yes! We already have caffeinated gum, one brand is called "JOLT." And there are potato chips too -- "NRG Phoenix Fury."
Besides Butterfinger Buzz, Hershey's dark chocolate bar contains caffeine (30 mg). And a new product, "Foosh" mints is a tin containing 12 sugarless mints. Each mint has 100 mg caffeine -- that's 25 percent more caffeine than in a Red Bull energy drink. As a comparison, a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola has 57 mg caffeine and a 12-ounce cup of Starbucks brewed coffee has 260 mg.
I don't believe this is a trend that's going away anytime soon. Technically caffeine should be classified as a drug. Researchers, toxicologists, emergency room physicians -- all warn against the lack of regulation of energy drink caffeine content. Energy drinks aren't labeled and their caffeine contents are highly variable.
There should be prominent labeling of caffeine content on all energy drinks, along with warnings about the potential health risks of consuming too much caffeine. Warnings -- now there's a good idea.
WARNING! INTOXICATION SYMPTOMS
Caffeine intoxication is a clinical syndrome recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases. The symptoms of caffeine intoxication include the following :
- Nausea can lead to intractable vomiting -- vomiting that is not very well-controlled with routine medications used in emergency departments;
- Heart conditions -- potentially life-threatening abnormal rhythms in the heart;
- With doses exceeding 10g of caffeine, grand mal seizures and respiratory failure may result in death.
LABELING OF CAFFEINE CONTENT VITAL
Yo, federal regulators.
We know you're already in a lot of trouble for the horrible job you're doing not keeping the American public safe with the food and drink we consume. You don't really need another study to figure out that prominent labeling of caffeine content and warnings of potential health risks is the minimum necessary -- NOW. Before more and more teenagers hit the nation's emergency rooms. Just do it!
TO READ "Sparks Caffeine-Alcohol Drink: Unethical, Dangerous, Removed," CLICK HERE.
TO READ "The ABC's of Caffeine," CLICK HERE.