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caffeine

Shiner’s caffeinated beer

We return to an old favorite topic, caffeination of things that are normally not caffeinated.

One of Texas’ favorite beer brands has released a new product to celebrate 108 years in business.

Shiner Beer’s caffeine-laden Shiner Cold Brew Coffee Ale has just hit stores. The brew is made with Chameleon Cold Brew, another Texas-based company.

Chameleon has been making organic cold brew in Austin since 2010. The brand has exploded in the Lone Star State as cold brew increased in popularity.

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Those who have tasted the new Shiner beer say it has a clean finish, lager-like taste. According to the Beer Street Journal it “drinks like a beer, as well as a hopped cold brew.”

The beer will be released in cans, bottles, and on draft. It will be a limited-time offering.

Shiner releases specialty limited-availability brews every year around this time. Lots of things have been caffeinated in recent years – potato chips, soap, Cracker Jack, even air. Caffeinated beer has been with us since at least 2004, though as that was a Budweiser product, I’ve no doubt that Shiner Cold Brew Coffee Ale will be superior. Alas, I myself am not a fan of coffee, so I’ll have to rely on third party reports to confirm that. Bottoms up and Happy Birthday, Shiner.

There are limits to caffeination after all

No caffeinated gum for you.

Wrigley’s new caffeinated gum, Alert Energy Gum, only lasted a couple of weeks on the shelves of supermarkets, grocery stores and convenient stores after the FDA became concerned about the amount of caffeine each piece of gum offered.

With 40 milligrams of caffeine (equal to half a cup of coffee) in each piece, it’s no shock as to why the FDA was concerned, especially because we live in a world where energy drinks and coffee thrive. Although other gum companies have released their own caffeinated items, like Mentos’s Up2U Gum and Jolt’s energy gum, the FDA has become recently concerned with the amount of added caffeine in foods and drinks.

In fact, the main worry the FDA has about caffeinated beverages and foods is that most of the products are marketed to children, who shouldn’t be consuming energy drinks and coffee throughout the day. The FDA’s limit for caffeine consumed each day is 400 milligrams, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee. This limit is set for adults, but the FDA discourages the consumption of caffeine or caffeinated items by children and youths.

Gum is an item consumed by people of all ages, so unlike alcohol, it isn’t blocked from being purchased by children or adolescents. In a statement from the FDA, Michael R. Taylor, the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the agency says, “One pack of this gum is like having four cups of coffee in your pocket. Caffeine is even being added to jelly beans, marshmallows, sunflower seeds and other snacks for its stimulant effect.”

So after caffeinated Cracker Jacks, air, beer, soap, doughnuts, and potato chips, we have finally reached a bridge too far. You’ll just have to get juiced by other means. On the bright side, there’s a caffeinated toothbrush coming out soon, so the range of options continues to expand.

Cracker Jack’d

Buy me some peanuts and caffeinated Cracker Jacks

Coming soon to a store near you: Cracker Jack’D, a new twist on the popcorn candy that offers Power Bites with as much caffeine in every serving as a cup of coffee. That could mean kids could get an overdose of caffeine if they consume more than one serving at a time, warns the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit nutrition activist group based in Washington, DC.

The addition of caffeine to a growing number of snack foods comes at a time when warning bells have sounded over the hazards of caffeinated energy drinks. US Food and Drug Administration officials told the New York Times on Wednesday that they’ve received reports of 13 deaths linked to 5-Hour Energy shots over the past four years. And the agency is also investigating heart attacks attributed to Monster energy drink, including the death of a 14-year-old Maryland teen.

An excessive amount of caffeine can cause heart palipitations, increased blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and insomnia — and kids may be particularly sensitive to the chemical’s effects.

The nutrition activist group fired off a protest letter on Wednesday to manufacturer Frito Lay and to the FDA. “Whether or not they are advertised directly to children, it is certain that young children will consume Cracker Jack’d…and sometimes consume it to excess,” wrote the Center’s director Michael Jacobson.

Besides the energy drink craze, caffeine has also been added recently to foods you’d never suspect like the low-calorie beverage Crystal Light, Sport Beans jelly beans, and MiO Liquid Water Enhancer, a flavoring that’s squirted into water.

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Frito-Lay spokesperson Chris Kuechenmeister pointed out in an emailed statement that the new Cracker Jack’D Power Bites line have “two flavors that will contain coffee, a natural source of caffeine.” The company expects each 2-ounce serving to contain about 70 milligrams of caffeine, the FDA limit for a 12-ounce serving of cola.

“Cracker Jack’D is a product line specifically developed for adult consumers and will not be marketed to children,” wrote Kuechenmeister. “The package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers.”

Yes, I’m sure no children will ever consume this product. At the rate we’re going, it’s a matter of what isn’t caffeinated any more, not what is. Via Jezebel.

Snorting caffeine

The next frontier in caffeination: Caffeinated air.

Breathe in the buzz

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials plan to investigate whether inhalable caffeine sold in lipstick-sized canisters is safe for consumers and if its manufacturer was right to brand it as a dietary supplement.

AeroShot went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, and it’s also available in France. Consumers put one end of the canister in their mouths and breathe in, releasing a fine powder that dissolves almost instantly.

Each grey-and-yellow plastic canister contains B vitamins, plus 100 milligrams of caffeine powder, about the equivalent of the caffeine in a large cup of coffee.

AeroShot inventor, Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, says the product is safe and doesn’t contain taurine and other common additives used to enhance the caffeine effect in energy drinks.

It was bound to happen. I mean, after caffeinating beer, soap, doughnuts, and potato chips, where else was there to go?

Mixing alcohol and caffeine

I don’t drink “energy drinks” or the new “caffeinated alcohol” drinks because they look hideous and I’m way too old for that crap, but apparently they have drawn the attention of the regulatory agencies for being potentially dangerous.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission this month asked vendors to cease distributing the products and remove them from store shelves. The request followed Food and Drug Administration, Treasury Department and Federal Trade Commission warnings to companies that make the beverages that they’re unsafe and illegal.

“It’s great that public officials are moving to discourage these canned products, but the mixing of the drinks is still very prevalent in bars and clubs,” said Dr. John Higgins, a Houston cardiologist. “It’s a very risky combination.”

Higgins, a professor at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the director of exercise physiology at the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute, recently released results of a study on the dangers from excessive consumption of just energy beverages, let alone such beverages mixed with alcohol.

His study found the combination, popular among young people in recent years, can impair cognitive and heart function.

I couldn’t find a link to Dr. Higgins’ study, which was apparently published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, but I found a reference to it in this article, which is also about bad effects of energy drinks. I have a feeling this is going to become a much more high profile fight soon.

One thing from the Chron story that didn’t look right to me:

Medical experts say the mixture creates “wide-awake drunks,” people unaware how intoxicated they are and able to consume more drinks before passing out. Higgins said the mixture’s opposite effects — “like pushing on the brakes and accelerator at the same time” — are hard on the central nervous system.

The cans, which contain as much as 12 percent alcohol and 200 mg of caffeine, pack a much stronger punch than, say, a rum and Coke.

Consuming a single can of Four Loko, for instance, has been compared to drinking five cans of beer and a cup of coffee, enough to give a small woman a blood-alcohol level about twice the legal limit.

I’d like to know who is doing that comparing and on what basis they make that statement, because the alcohol content of your typical American lager is 4.5 to 4.7% by volume, though there’s a lot of variation. Something that is 12% alcohol (I presume they mean by volume and not by weight here; the “by weight” value is about 80% of the “by volume” value) is therefore two to three times as alcoholic as beer, not five times as much. Either I’m missing something, or someone is being loose with the numbers. Hair Balls has more.