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But because it's the FDA, the agency instead took a mere 17 years to ponder that action before deciding not to take that—or any other—particular course.
Which brings us to back to caffeinated gum, which the FDA’s Michael Taylor referred to this week as part of a worrying pattern of "new and easy sources" of caffeine that are "beyond anything FDA envisioned.”
Not only is caffeinated gum not the least bit new, neither did it fly under the federal government’s radar. In fact, the Pentagon reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars over the last 15 or so years testing whether nothing less than caffeinated gum can help U.S. troops be more mentally acute in the battlefield
So why this potential crackdown based on a decades-old product that the U.S. government itself has studied for its alleged benefits?
With an agency history in the area of caffeine that is as fascinating as it is idiotic, contradictory, enraging, and aimless, there’s good reason to fear for the future of everything from caffeinated gum to energy drinks, and from caffeinated beef jerky to Mountain Dew (which is not a “cola-type beverage” and so could be in jeopardy under the strict interpretation of FDA rules the agency wields at its whim).
“[I]s this something we need?” asks Marion Nestle, a professor of public health at New York University and prominent advocate for greater government restrictions. Though Nestle’s rhetorical question was directed at Wrigley and its caffeinated gum, a more appropriate target for such inquiry would be the FDA itself.