Caffeine Intake Safety Laws


Food Governing Agencies Weigh In

The safety of caffeine intake is constantly debated, especially in light of the recent controversy surrounding teens and energy drink consumption.

What is the official stance on the safety of caffeine intake according to the food governing and health agencies around the world?

This article will give you the gist of what each of the organizations believe regarding the use of caffeine as a food or beverage additive.

The Food and Drug Administration

fdaThe FDA’s official stance is that caffeine is safe for consumers up to 400mg/ daily. To date, they allow caffeine to be added to beverages and food as long as it is listed in the ingredients panel.

However, products are not required to list the amount of caffeine that they contain.

The FDA is currently investigating the use of caffeine in food, especially as it relates to the consumption of these foods by minors. Michael R. Taylor, the Deputy Commissioner of the FDA says that their current laws are outdated.

The Food and Nutrition Board division of the Institute of Medicine was recently commissioned by the FDA to study the issue of caffeine safety as a food and dietary supplement additive. The FDA is currently reviewing the IOM’s findings.

Read more about the FDA’s stance here.

European Commission – Food Safety

eu-food-safetyThe current laws in Europe require any food or beverage that doesn’t naturally contain caffeine  to list the ingredient on the label and identify the amount it contains.

Here’s what The EC says about caffeine safety.

As far as caffeine is concerned, the Scientific Committee for Food, in its opinion of 21 January 1999 on caffeine and other substances used as ingredients in “energy drinks”, concluded that, for adults, apart from pregnant women, the contribution of “energy drinks” to the total consumption of caffeine did not appear to be a cause for concern, assuming that “energy drinks” replace other sources of caffeine. However, for children, an increase in the daily intake of caffeine to a certain level of consumption per day may bring about temporary changes in behavior, such as increased excitability, irritability, nervousness or anxiety. In addition, for pregnant women, the Committee’s view is that moderation of caffeine intake is advisable.

Read more here.

The European Food Safety Authority recently released the following research regarding caffeine in consumer products and the safety there of.

  • They found that adults can safely consume up to 5.7 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight.
  • Healthy adults should have no more than 200 mg of caffeine in a single dose.
  • They found that there isn’t enough data to establish a safe level for children and adolescents.
  • Pregnant woman should have no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

new-zealand-flagThese two countries perhaps have some of the strictest caffeine restrictions with Australia being even more restrictive than New Zealand.

Their expert working group issued a report on caffeine safety and found the following conclusions.

Drawing on two decades of research on the effects of caffeine in humans, the present author is led to the following conclusions:

  • Habitual use of caffeine leads to physical dependence (as evidenced by the existence of a well characterized abstinence-induced ‘withdrawal syndrome’).
  • Habitual use has no demonstrated benefits.
  • Dietary caffeine has harmful physical and behavioral effects.
  • The harmful effects of caffeine probably extrapolate to children.

 Read Their Guidelines Here.

Health Canada

Canadian-flagCanadian caffeine laws are stricter than that of the USA. In fact, caffeine cannot be added to a food or beverage unless it is from a natural source.

At one time the only soft drinks that could contain caffeine were cola beverages, however, this restriction has since been lifted. Energy drinks were once considered health supplements, but now are under their food guidelines.

Their website also states this:

Currently, pure caffeine and caffeine citrate may be added to cola-type beverages and it must be declared in the ingredients list on the product label. Caffeine may not be added to any other food.

But, this is clearly no longer relevant since other soft drinks contain caffeine as well as energy drinks, which are now considered food.

Here’s what Health Canada states about the safety of caffeine.

A review undertaken by Health Canada scientists has considered the numerous studies dealing with caffeine and its potential health effects. It has re-confirmed that for the average adult, moderate daily caffeine intake at dose levels of 400 mg/day is not associated with any adverse effects.

Read more about Health Canada’s guidelines here.

The International Food Information Council

The IFIC has published a large review of caffeine research. It’s conclusion:

Moderate intake of 300 mg/day (about three cups of coffee per day) of caffeine does not cause adverse health effects in healthy adults, although some groups, including those with hypertension and the elderly, may be more vulnerable. Also, regular consumers of coffee and other caffeinated beverages may experience some undesirable, but mild, short-lived symptoms if they stop consuming caffeine, particularly if the cessation is abrupt. However, there is little evidence of health risks of caffeine consumption.

Overall, they conclude that moderate caffeine intake is safe and can even be beneficial to one’s health.

You can view their fact sheet here.

Are these government agencies on the right track as far as caffeine safety is concerned? 

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  • TatsuMaster

    I agree 100% but unfortunately some don’t understand moderation. As they say, “one bad apple spoils the bunch”

  • Chris

    Hey, don’t talk about my drugs that way. It’s not all scourge and gloom! Caffeine is one of many chemicals that can be a part of our lives in a healthy way if not abused.

  • Yes. We should ban food. The obesity epidemic would end in about a month. Come to think of it, that would also help with global warming and overpopulation. Well, it would take care of “population” altogether…

  • urzu117

    i lol’d at the ban food comment.

  • Melvinator

    Haha! I knew my daily caffeine intake isn;t wnough to kill a human…maybe a baby…or a dog.

  • Nik

    “Some kids get carried away with too many energy drinks and learn some consequences.”

    I hear that. Why are kids using energy drinks anyway? The only caffeinated drink I had until I was 17 or so was maybe a soda or two a day.

  • Justin

    The thing with everything you put into your body is moderation. An energy drink every day is probably not the way to go, what with the unknown long term effects of some of the things in many that are not caffeine. Unhealthy food, unhealthy drinks, and unhealthy drugs can, for the most part, be enjoyed in small amounts every once in awhile without a detrimental effect. Bad things happen if you can’t get through your day without a particular substance, whether it be Spike Shooter, a BK Quad Stacker, or a syringe full of heroin.

  • e.a.nowakattack

    “Why are kids using energy drinks anyway? The only caffeinated drink I had until I was 17 or so was maybe a soda or two a day.”

    In my opinion, the legal buzz. Heck in highschool my friend’s and I would chew up some caffeine pills, wash it down with some Jolt, and then go out for a cup of coffee.
    Also a lot of energy drinks just taste good and many kids drink soda frequently. To be frank, isn’t that exactly what and energy drink is?

  • Dudewithareallyreallylongscreenname

    Caffeine boosts your metabolism, mental focus, athletic performance, and keeps you awake!

    What’s not to like?!

  • Caffeine is GOOD. Except this one time where I had 500mg inside of half an hour, and several cigarettes, not counting the “Energy Blend” of the Spike Shotgun. That was interesting.

  • Patrick Lariviere

    I cut all caffeine, I sleep better, no more headache on weekend because I don’t drink as many cups of coffe than at the office. I drink decaf now, while it is not 100% caffeine free, unless drinking 15 cups, you’ll never reach the 80mg treshold which is the maximum intake sets by the Canada Federal government.

  • Pieter de Waal

    Comment: ROSE’S KOLA TONIC. A friend of mine damaged his liver by alcohol abuse and was forced to become a teetotaller. He however started to drink RKT with lemonade not knowing about the caffeine content. I am of the opinion that RKT contributed to his early death. We could have prevented it in warning him about the dangerous levels of caffeine in RKT. I nearly fell in the same trap. Due to Hepatitis B, I drank grape juice and then RKT in large amounts. Fortunately a relative warned me in time to stop using it. The point is that the caffeine content per volume in RKT should be clearly stated on the label and not in hidden fine script and then in so much per dilution. The alcohol in brandy is not given in so much per double brandy and coke. Woolworths (a respectable shop concerned about proper labelling regarding content) tried to shut me up and gave me a cold shoulder. Tiger Brands, the suppliers, also played hide and seek until recently. I have managed to force them to admit that their practice is somewhat illegal. They say now that they will give attention in time. Any comment/reaction? Pieter de Waal

  • Pieter de Waal

    Caffeine intoxication – KOLA TONIC KILLS
    An acute overdose of caffeine, usually in excess of about 300 milligrams, dependent on body weight and level of caffeine tolerance, can result in a state of central nervous system over-stimulation called caffeine intoxication,[75] colloquially “caffeine jitters”. The symptoms of caffeine intoxication are not unlike overdoses of other stimulants. It may include restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushing of the face, increased urination, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, a rambling flow of thought and speech, irritability, irregular or rapid heart beat, and psychomotor agitation.[73] In cases of much larger overdoses mania, depression, lapses in judgment, disorientation, loss of social inhibition, delusions, hallucinations, psychosis, rhabdomyolysis, and death may occur.[76][77]
    In cases of extreme overdose, death can result. The median lethal dose (LD50) given orally, is 192 milligrams per kilogram in rats.[1] The LD50 of caffeine in humans is dependent on weight and individual sensitivity and estimated to be about 150 to 200 milligrams per kilogram of body mass, roughly 80 to 100 cups of coffee for an average adult taken within a limited time frame that is dependent on half-life. Though achieving lethal dose with caffeine would be exceptionally difficult with regular coffee, there have been reported deaths from overdosing on caffeine pills, with serious symptoms of overdose requiring hospitalization occurring from as little as 2 grams of caffeine.[78][79][80][81] Death typically occurs due to ventricular fibrillation brought about by effects of caffeine on the cardiovascular system.
    Treatment of severe caffeine intoxication is generally supportive, providing treatment of the immediate symptoms, but if the patient has very high serum levels of caffeine then peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, or hemofiltration may be required.

  • Pieter de Waal

    Dear Woolworths,

    I was not actually applying for a post. My intention was to get hold of your Customer Service section to report on your South African namesake.

    I am having a case of Woolies selling a product that contains large enough amounts of caffeine to kill a man. The product is Rose’s Kola Tonic supplied by Tiger Food Brands . The label on the product do not clearly state the caffeine content per volume, but is showing in hidden fine script the caffeine in so much per dilution. This is somewhat illegal.

    Woolies SA however, dodged me for years on the issue and later insulted me on my cell (mobile phone), gave me a cold shoulder or ignored my polite requests. They even lied later about the history of me requests.

    I have chosen Woolies because they advertise openly (and do it well too) about their concern about proper labelling. They, however, ignored my attention and refused or was afraid to deal with the matter.

    Please refer this mail to the right authorities in the UK and ask them to convince Woolies SA to deal with their supplier.

    Your attention will be appreciated.

    Kind regards,
    Pieter de Waal.
    South Africa

  • Nik

    The section on Canada saying the only soft drink that can contain caffeine are cola beverages is wrong, Mountain Dew has around 90mg per bottle and I’m pretty sure that’s not a cola beverage.

  • Ted

    That info was taken directly from Health Canada’s Website, but thanks for pointing that out. Their page actually contradicts itself. At the top it says caffeine can be added to soft drinks and then further down the page it states the following
    “Currently, pure caffeine and caffeine citrate may be added to cola-type beverages and it must be declared in the ingredients list on the product label. Caffeine may not be added to any other food.”


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  • Amir Nabitabar
  • unused_username

    these restrictions come from the same people who once said eating ~20 banannas a week is dangerous “because of the amount of potassium” just like caffine, potassium is hard to overdose on {possible but your body simply stores it until needed} a 5 year old can safely drink a full NOS and have no problems, seeing that 6 mt dews a day passes the “restrictions” in a lot of places only makes me want to drink 12 of them so good luck trying to ban them

Last Modified: August 10, 2017