Would the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) be justified in
establishing some sort of control and/or regulatory policy with regard to
products containing caffeine? Provide some examples. Explain your view.
Once the Starbucks Generation starts to age, and the long term impacts of caffeinated energy drinks begin to show, then we'll know whether the FDA should/should have regulated caffeine. While the FDA does already have regulatory authority over caffeine products, like coffee and chocolate, and while the FDA does already regulate caffeine as a supplement, the FDA steps in with regulation of foods only when some danger has been caused or some danger can be proven to be threatening.
In general, I would say no that the government should not be placing regulations on this type of product. There have been recent exceptions to this though. I think the FDA should be regulating either the amount of caffeine in products or the warning labels that are on highly caffeinated products. If we look back a few months, caffeinated alcoholic beverages were all over the news. Many college students died because they did not understand the risks of what they were putting in their bodies. It seemed like a harmless soda, but it was actually a dangerous product when taken in excess. I think the FDA was right to remove these products from store shelves until they could be labeled with information and an appropriate warning to consumers.
I believe that it is "reasonable," but would any law be followed? I don't think so. What I see happening would be caffeinated items would go underground. As silly as it sounds, some people are literally addicted to caffeine--myself included.
Caffeine has been under fire for a long time as being more addictive and more harmful than tobacco. I don't know if this is necessarily true, but it is certainly more available. As #2 says, it would be much easier to overdose on caffeine than on alcohol. I wonder if this is more an area for better education instead of new laws (laws that I don't think anyone will follow).
This is a very difficult topic, as given the tendency for American citizens to become obese, critics could argue that there is much more of a moral and financial imperative to focus on other substances such as sugar, salt, and transfats. Why is it you are picking on caffeine as opposed to any other substance?
It makes sense for the FDA to study this issue thoroughly and to issue suggestions if those seem advisable. Apparently the Canadian version of the FDA has indeed issued guidelines. Any American guidelines, as I imagine them, would be advisory and would not amount to regulations -- unless, that is, new evidence arises that suggests that caffeine is much more dangerous than it seems to be. This is a topic that definitely seems to deserve further study, especially since caffeine is indeed consumed in such high rates in our society.
But educational policies aren't a form of regulation. So if we're asking about actual regulation, it might make sense to ban drinks like Four Loko that have caffeine and alcohol in them if it is actually proven that these drinks are dangerous. But if we are just talking about caffeine, it would make no sense to regulate it. Americans are much too fond of caffeinated beverages to stand for government attempts to restrict such drinks.
Seeing that caffeine does affect the body in potentially negative ways, I think it is reasonable for the FDA to have an interest in this subject. With the current prevalence in highly caffeinated drinks like "Red Bull" and "Monster" there is a risk of a consumer drinking a dangerous amount of caffeine. There is no way to control how many drinks a person could consume, but perhaps there needs to be a better educational effort to informing the public of the possible negative and dangerous side effects of overindulging in these kinds of drinks.