Sat, Sep 10, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Caffeine limits for canned drinks to ease in December


People who have trouble falling asleep should start paying more attention to what they drink because the Department of Health (DOH) is going to raise the maximum amount of caffeine allowed in canned drinks from 200 parts per million (ppm) to 320ppm.

The new rule takes effect in December. Hsiao Tung-ming (蕭東銘), the deputy director of the Bureau of Food Safety, said the bureau wants to ease the restrictions on caffeine in all canned drinks, including coffees, teas, soft-drinks and the so-called energy drinks.

However, the ingredients lists on canned drinks containing more than 200ppm of caffeine will have to specify the exact amount contained.

Canned drinks with less than 200ppm of caffeine, however, will not have to list the exact amount.

The policy shift came just days after the issue of caffinated canned drinks was spotlighted at a press conference held by Taipei City Councilor Li Keng Kuei-fang (厲耿桂芳) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Consumers' Foundation on Monday. Li and the foundation criticized the department for not doing enough to monitor the caffeine content of canned drinks and demanded it take steps to remedy the situation immediately.

Li said that of the 15 kinds of canned coffee examined by the foundation, nine contained excessive amounts of caffeine. Most of the cans did not indicate how much caffeine was in the drink.

The department's announcement yesterday was condemned by Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉), the nutrition section chief at the John Tung Foundation, who said that decisionmakers were not thinking clearly.

"How could they ignore the public's health, and relax the limits?" Hsu said.

He warned that children might be put at risk, since soft-drink manufacturers will be able to boost the amount of caffeine in their canned drinks in December.

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