The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has written a letter to the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Compliance, claiming that caffeinated snack foods violate the agency’s determination “that caffeine is generally recognized as safe only in cola-type beverages and only at concentrations at 0.02 percent or less (about 72 mg per 12 oz.).” Singling out a new line of Frito-Lay’s Cracker Jack® snacks, Kraft’s MiO Energy “water enhancer” and Jelly Belly’s “Extreme Sport Beans,” CSPI alleges that these products could represent “the beginning of a craze in which many companies, large and small, disregard FDA’s regulation and begin adding caffeine to all kinds of foods and beverages.”

In particular, the consumer group has raised concerns that caffeinated snacks like “Cracker Jack’D” are child-friendly even if they are not marketed directly to children. “Kids will naturally be attracted to a tasty, finger-friendly snack food packaged and advertised with familiar Cracker Jack artwork,” opines CSPI’s November 14, 2012, letter to PepsiCo, Inc. and Frito-Lay North America. “Also, several state and city-law enforcement officials and United States senators recently expressed concern about the caffeine content and marketing of energy drinks… Those or other officials may well be concerned about the marketing of caffeinated snack foods… Some parents might even resort to the courts to recoup the damages caused by those products.”

CSPI has thus urged the companies to refrain from marketing these products, citing the American Academy of Pediatrics in its call to discourage caffeine consumption among young people. “Unless the FDA begins enforcing its regulations, I fear that we’ll see caffeine being added to ever-more improbable drinks and snacks, putting children, unsuspecting pregnant women, and others at risk,” said CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson. “How soon before we have caffeinated burgers, burritos, or breakfast cereals?” See CSPI News Release, November 14, 2012.