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?
The FDA already has regulatory authority over caffeine as a food supplement. There are instances when the FDA deems that a beverage poses a public hazard, such as the recent instance of energy drinks laced with alcohol and marketed toward the teen demographic. In such a case, the FDA intervenes with regulatory policy. When suspicions that excessive amounts of caffeine are harmful and that Americans consume excessive amounts of caffeine are confirmed and more openly discussed by the medical field, then the FDA will step up its interest in caffeine and regulate it in ways similar to those used for the alcohol laden energy drinks.
The FDA I guess would be justified in regulating the sale and use of combinations of caffeine with other substances that can be injurious to people. For example, caffeine used with other compounds can increase the rate of absorption of the compound and make people consuming it not realize that they are consuming too much of the harmful substance as the caffeine masks its effects.
I have not read any literature that establishes such effects caused by just drinking coffee.
The Food and Drug administration should return to its original purpose of insuring labeling standards for food and drugs, so people can make informed decisions. However, once the slippery slope of regulation was crossed with drugs back in the 1920's it was inevitable that, unchecked, by now the agency would seek regulatory power over food, and the "drugs" they contain. Coffee contains caffeine (in fact, the word derives from it) but it certainly does not need to be regulated.
If they did, all the FDA could do would be to provide advisory information on such products. However, to be honest, I think the FDA have far bigger fish to fry. Let us remember that the biggest health issue in the USA at the moment is obesity. Therefore, personally, I think the FDA should turn its attention to the fat content of food and try to promote healthy eating rather than focus on caffeine.
If it could be shown that caffeine were a truly dangerous substance, then clearly the FDA would have good cause to try to regulate it in some way. However, I'm not aware of any evidence that suggests that caffeine is very dangerous. Some studies seem to suggest that coffee consumption, for instance, can actually benefit one's health; other studies suggest just the opposite. In contrast, I don't know of anyone who tries to claim a health benefit from cocaine consumption or use of heroin.
While I agree with the sentiments of the previous posts, I think there is an area of concern in regards to caffeine in the number of highly caffeinated drinks on the market that are geared especially to young people. Caffeine in high doses does have an affect on the body which could be potentially harmful in the long run.
The primary role of the FDA is not public health, as that role is taken by the Centers for Disease Control and the Health and Human Services. The role of the FDA, rather, is public safety.
So instead of reglating caffeine and telling us how to get our daily recommended allowance of whatever, the FDA should be screening food products, drugs and inventions that are now in the development phase, oversee testing and review procedures, and protecting us from that which might be harmful or unsafe. Caffeine addiction is a small fish. The pharmaceutical and agricultural industries are huge fish.
I agree that the FDA has more important things to do. It may be that caffeine has some properties that make it in some ways addictive and therefore subject to government regulation. However, I do not think that caffeine is addictive in the same way that real drugs are. There are so many things that are bad for us and that can be called addictive. There is no way that the government can regulate them all and I'm not at all sure I'd want to live in a society where it did.
I would like the government to help educate people about the implications of caffeine consumption, but not to try to regulate it in any legal way.
This is a great question. I would say that the FDA has other issues that it has to deal with. For this reason, they should not expend more energy in setting up some control or regulatory policy for products containing caffeine. Caffeine consumption is not a huge problem today. To be sure, some people are addicted to caffeine and can get headaches and the like when they do not get their daily dosage of caffeine through coffee or something else. But we can say that people are addicted to salt, sugar, and oily foods as well. Moreover, salt is far bigger problem in our society today. In my opinion, FDA should regulate how much salt can be added to foods served at a restaurants. Mayor Bloomberg of New York has suggested this.
With this said, there are even some side benefits to caffeine, such a lower cancer rates. In the end, caffeine for all its percieved dangers is less dangerous than things like salt. Hence, the FDA have more important issues to address.