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Wrigley halts production of caffeine gum following FDA concern

People walk past the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois April 28, 2008. REUTERS/Frank Polich
People walk past the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois April 28, 2008. REUTERS/Frank Polich

(Reuters) - Wrigley temporarily halted production of its new Alert Energy Caffeine Gum in response to concerns expressed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the impact of caffeine on children and adolescents.

The company said it had paused the production, sale and marketing of Alert to give the FDA time to develop a new regulatory framework for the addition of caffeine to food and drinks.

The recently launched gum has about 40 milligrams of caffeine, as much as a half a cup of coffee, in each piece.

"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply," Wrigley North America President Casey Keller said in a statement.

Keller said there was a need for change in the regulatory framework to "better guide" consumers and the industry about the appropriate use of caffeinated products.

The company previously said it marketed the gum as an energy product for adults aged 25 and older, and that it exceeded current regulatory requirements on labeling.

The FDA said last month that it was taking a "fresh look" at the issue in response to the launch of a caffeinated gum, and warned that it would take action "if necessary".

The FDA did not name Wrigley, owned by privately held Mars Inc, or the gum in its statement.

Wrigley is not the first company to market gum with energizing properties. Mondelez International Inc sells a line of gums with ingredients like ginseng, green tea and Vitamin C. Stride Spark sells gum that have Vitamins B6 and B12 added.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore and Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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