The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C., has issued recommended guidelines for caffeine-containing dietary supplement products, expanding its self-regulatory initiatives that encourage best practices within the supplement industry and promote safe use of dietary supplements by consumers. The guidelines focus on five core areas: disclosure of total caffeine content from both added and naturally occurring sources of caffeine; label advisories for conditions of use; serving size and daily intake recommendations; restraints against marketing in combination with alcohol; and implementation for product labels.
“These recommendations go beyond what is required by law, but our member companies, along with the conventional beverage industry, recognize that consumers would benefit by having information that lets them know how much caffeine is in the products they choose to take,” said Steve Mister, president & CEO, CRN. “This is one example of how responsible companies in our industry are taking proactive steps to educate consumers so they can make informed decisions about caffeine-containing supplements, and we trust consumers will be mindful of the amounts of caffeine they are getting from all sources.”
The guidelines call on manufacturers to disclose on the product label the total amount of caffeine, from both natural sources like green tea extract, coffee bean extract, guarana or yerba mate, as well as added caffeine. In addition to the recommendation for label disclosure of total caffeine content, the guidelines recommend that products with a total caffeine content of more than 100 mg per serving include label advisories for children, those sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women, and those with a medical condition or taking medication. The guidelines also discourage companies from marketing or promoting the use of caffeine-containing dietary supplements in combination with alcohol, or to counter the acute or immediate effects of alcohol.
According to Mr. Mister, “The guidelines are not intended to be rigid or compulsory for the industry, but rather to give firms a model of how to communicate with their consumers about these products. Companies looking to do the right thing can adopt these flexible recommendations for developing their own product labels.”
Caffeine is one of the most studied food ingredients on the market and is considered safe—and also may offer health benefits—when consumed in moderation. Consumers have numerous choices for incorporating caffeine into their diets including conventional foods (such as coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, etc.) and dietary supplements (such as capsules, tablets, powders, energy shots and energy drinks). Both of these product categories are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
The guidelines are effective April 1, 2013, with a recommended implementation time of twelve months, allowing companies sufficient time to comply with the guidelines for new product labels put into the market.