One of the perennial questions that remains unanswered satisfactorily is whether Caffeine is safe or not. It is true that Coffee, Tea and Cocoa, all containing caffeine to varying extent are being consumed for ages and there is no clear evidence that these beverages are unsafe when taken in moderate quantities. Surprisingly there are convincing studies that have brought out the beneficial effect of caffeine for human health. Against this background Beverage Industry may be justified in introducing drinking water and drinks that contain caffeine, alone or in combination with other permitted ingredients. However, too much consumption of these products can be a cause for worry as being pointed out by health and nutrition experts. It is under these circumstances that in some countries there are moves to tighten regulations concerning caffeine containing products. Australia and New Zealand are in the forefront trying to bring about some sanity in this industry.
"A review ordered by New Zealand and Australia will put caffeinated energy drinks under the spotlight, highlighting health concerns surrounding the products. "Over the past four years the amount of caffeine consumed in the world has been around four million litres of energy drinks," said AUT nutrition expert Elaine Rush. Ministers responsible for trans-Tasman food and drink regulation met yesterday, after a New Zealand study revealed that excessive levels of caffeine can cause irritability, anxiety and dizziness, and long-term damage to pregnant women and children. "Applying one rule or regulation to say this is safe is very difficult because some people will have more of an adverse effect than others, and yet caffeine is a psychometric drug, its not a nutrient and therefore there is no real use for it in the body," said Rush. An Environmental Science and Research study found that some people may experience short-term anxiety if consuming more than 3 milligrams of caffeine daily for each kilogram of body weight - about four cups of tea a day for adults. Waikato Clinical School of Medicine academic psychiatrist David Menkes said evidence shows these drinks can have serious adverse effects. He said he would like to see better information about the products and warnings around who should drink them. Energy Drinks are already covered by a trans-Tasman food standard, however energy 'shots' and other energy products have been widely available since it was drafted".
The fact that caffeine is not considered a nutrient viewed from any angle, allows sufficient elbow space to regulate their use more easily and the finding that consuming this stimulant substance in whatever form can create symptoms like irritability and anxiety amongst some consumers must be viewed with serious apprehension. Added to this some products in the market containing caffeine and alcohol, targeted at youngsters cannot be justified and must be banned altogether. Probably an omnipotent provision for inclusion of suitable warnings on the label regarding the adverse effects of caffeine, may, to some extent, serve the purpose of consumer protection while a mandatory ceiling of caffeine content in all synthetic products will provide further safety.V.H.POTTY