Caffeine drinks could get warning label
SACRAMENTO (KABC) -- Can the caffeine found in soda and energy drinks be harmful to your health? State environmental health officials are looking into it, and they could soon add caffeine to California's list of harmful substances. Natural sources of caffeine like coffee and tea wouldn't have to be labeled. But drinks that add caffeine might soon carry a warning about the potential risk of drinking too much.
Californians love their caffeine -- whether it's a stop at the coffee house or at the soda machine, the pick-me-ups are popular.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment on Monday considered whether to deem caffeine as a harmful substance. If so, Proposition 65 requires warning labels on products containing toxins known to cause cancer or reproductive harm.
State toxicologists say the evidence on the effects of caffeine on pregnant women is overwhelming.
"The majority of studies reported adverse outcomes, such as spontaneous abortions, decreased fetal growth and birth weight," said state toxicologist Farla Kaufman, Ph.D.
The caffeine warning label would apply to products where caffeine is added, like sodas and fatigue-fighting pills. Some caffeinated energy drinks already print a warning to pregnant women.
The warning label would not be required in products where caffeine is naturally occurring, like coffee, tea, and chocolate.
The beverage and the over-the-counter medicine industries oppose the label requirement, saying the evidence is so conflicting, the direct correlation between caffeine and a risky pregnancy is not conclusive.
"To provide a Prop 65 warning would communicate to women that moderate amounts of caffeine is not safe," said Gary Roberts of the American Beverage Association. "And the consistent message from healthcare providers is that moderate amounts of caffeine is safe."
In the end, the committee voted 4-3 to move the proposal on for further study.
Eyewitness News didn't find any caffeine drinkers supporting the labeling requirements, with most saying it wouldn't change consumption.
"I don't think it would do any good to put a label on it. We basically already know, most of us should know," said Cheryl Griffiths.
"You put too many of these warning signs around and then people start to ignore it," said Mark Matranga. "Like they cried wolf too many times."
The state will now pour over the studies more in-depth and a decision on caffeine labeling requirements is at least another year away.
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