The US nutrition and health advocacy group said Frito-Lay’s newly developed caffeinated snack line is a violation of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and will set a bad precedent for other food manufacturers to use caffeine in products.
CSPI’s executive director Michael Jacobson acknowledged that there are usage levels for caffeine of up to 0.02% allowed in a cola-type beverage but said that the “lack of a standard for other products makes its use in those illegal”.
“Unless the FDA begins enforcing its regulation, I fear that we’ll see caffeine being added to ever-more improbably drinks and snacks, putting children, unsuspecting pregnant women and others at risk,” Jacobson said.
The executive director outlined his concerns in a letter to the FDA and company executives at Frito-Lay and PepsiCo.
‘We stand by the safety of all products’
In a statement sent to BakeryandSnacks.com, a Frito-Lay spokesperson defended its new Cracker Jack’D line, set to be launched in the US later this year.
“We stand by the safety of all products in the Cracker Jack’D line, including those that contain coffee,” they said.
The new line will contain a variety of products including snack mixes, popcorn clusters and ‘Power Bites’ wafers.
“Among the Power Bites products are two flavors that will contain coffee, a natural source of caffeine, as an ingredient. Because it is a natural constituent, the caffeine content of coffee varies,” they said.
Frito-Lay is still in the process of optimizing the product design, they said, but it is expected that each 2oz. pack will contain around 70mg of caffeine from coffee.
Targeting adults, not kids
Jacobson raised concerns about the snack being consumed by kids. “Whether or not they are advertised directly to children, it is certain that young children will consumer Cracker Jack’D… and sometimes consume it to excess,” he said.
However, the Frito-Lay spokesperson defended the marketing plans for the new product line. “Cracker Jack’D is a product line specifically developed for adult consumers and will not be marketed to children. All marketing for the products will be exclusively aimed at adult consumers, and the different package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers.”
There will be very clear labeling on the front and back of the package to indicate the presence of coffee and caffeine, they added.