The buzz over caffeine and kids

In the 1950s, when the world’s most popular psychoactive drug was approved for use in cola, who would have thought the bitter-tasting nervous system stimulant would become a trend surrounding children in 2014? But today, the trend of adding caffeine to kid-friendly drinks and snacks is so rampant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally stepped in.

A recent study on caffeine consumption by kids showed children have access to more caffeine than ever before. Gum, mints, jelly beans, trail mix, chips and ice cream are a few of the culprits dosed with caffeine, which is causing heightened concern due to caffeine’s possible health effects on children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently launched an investigation of how much caffeine is being spiked into products deemed kid-friendly. And while the United States lacks official guidelines or limits for children whose smaller bodies and developing brains may be more vulnerable to the effects of caffeine, Canadian guidelines recommend preschoolers get no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day. That’s equivalent to the average amount of caffeine found in one 12-ounce can of soda or four 1.5-ounce milk chocolate bars.

Wrigley, the world’s largest gum manufacturer, got the message and temporarily stopped sales on a newly launched caffeinated gum. And energy drinks have come under fire recently from lawmakers and consumer groups concerned about their safety, especially among teens.

The effects of caffeine on children can be especially intense, which is why hotel F&B departments should be playing it safe and limiting the items containing caffeine that are marketed to kids as well as educating staff members on energy drinks and other products containing excessive levels of caffeine.

Remember, when it comes to caffeine and kids, promoting a healthy kids menu can go a long way.

Have you revamped your children’s menu to give it a healthier edge? If so, what new items in the snack and drink category are you promoting to kids?