Frito-Lay is introducing a new caffeinated version of Cracker Jacks, and this variety has sparked controversy. A consumer health advocacy group has voiced concern over including caffeine in snacks.
Frito-Lay, the maker of Cracker Jacks, has created a new variety called Cracker Jack’D. Two of the five varieties in the new Cracker Jack’D product contains caffeine.
According to KDVR News, this planned product launch has stirred debate, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is appealing to both PepsiCo, the parent company of Frito-Lay, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding including caffeine in snacks that are marketed to children.
While Frito-Lay says this particular variety is going to be marketed to adults and reportedly will contain a warning label, concerns are the brand itself will make it appealing to kids. Cracker Jacks has long been associated with baseball and other kid-friendly events.
According to a report by CBS News, the FDA has standards for cola-type beverages where caffeine is added, but "has no such standards for snacks and other products."
"The way things are going, I fear that we'll see caffeine, or coffee, being added to ever-more improbable drinks and snacks, putting children, unsuspecting pregnant women, and others at risk," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, said in a written statement which has been posted on the organization's website. "How soon before we have caffeinated burgers, burritos, or breakfast cereals?"
CSPI sent a letter to the FDA asking the agency to take action. In its correspondence, CSPI also noted concerns over a product made by Kraft Foods. MiO "water enhancers" which are squirtable doses of flavor that contain caffeine and Jelly Belly's "Extreme Sport Beans", which also contain caffeine.
Jacobson also wrote to PepsiCo and Kraft Foods in separate letters.
"Those products may be just the beginning of a craze in which many companies, large and small, disregard the FDA's regulation and begin adding caffeine to all kinds of foods and beverages," Jacobson wrote in a letter to the FDA . "That could lead to serious health problems for children who consume those products as well as lead to cynicism among the public and industry about the FDA's effectiveness in enforcing and protecting the public's health."
CSPI pointed to a statement made by The American Academy of Pediatrics:
Additional concerns regarding the use of caffeine in children include its effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems and the risk of physical dependence and addiction. Because of the potentially harmful adverse effects and developmental effects of caffeine, dietary intake should be discouraged for all children.
Frito-Lay defends its new product and insists the new product will be geared towards adults.
"Cracker Jack'D is a product line specifically developed for adult consumers and will not be marketed to children," spokesperson Chris Kuechenmeister told The Boston Globe in an email (via New York Daily News). "The package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers."
The new caffeinated varieties of the Cracker Jack'D product will contain about 70 mg of caffeine in each 2 oz. package, and several media reports indicate this is about the same amount that comes in a serving of soda or coffee. Also, to consider, consumers, either adults or kids, may eat more than 2 ounces at a time.
The new caffeinated Cracker Jacks are being launched at a time when energy drinks have long been a controversial product on the market. Last week the FDA launched an investigation into 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations that are believed to be linked to energy drinks.
Gawker reported the product launch of Cracker Jack'D appears as if it will occur a few days before Christmas.