The Institute of Medicine (IOM) today released a 150-page summary of the two-day workshop held in August 2013 to examine the potential health impacts from consuming caffeine in dietary supplements and foods. Presenters included experts from across the country and even Canada. The document does not contain any recommendations or position statements from IOM, but it does present the participants’ evaluation of the relevant literature on caffeine consumption and effects, identification of potential data gaps, outline of certain populations at risk from caffeine exposure, and exploration of safe levels of exposure. The workshop was convened at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help the agency “get the science right” in determining whether to implement caffeine regulations. Concern over caffeine’s effects has grown as caffeinated products have become more prevalent and more attractive or accessible to children and teens. “Caffeinated ‘energy’ drinks hit the shelves over a decade ago, and, more recently, we have seen caffeine added to non-traditional products like waffles and syrup to snack foods, candy, chewing gum, and a variety of beverages,” Mike Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine,wrote on the FDA blog in August. FDA last looked at caffeine as a food additive in the 1950s when the agency set a limit on the amount that could be added to colas. Caffeine is on the agency’s list of ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) when it comprises .02 percent of a cola beverage, but it has not been regulated in other contexts. “The legal framework for substances like caffeine is complicated, but one thing is clear: Companies adding caffeine to foods and beverages have an obligation to ensure there is a sound scientific basis for concluding that their uses are safe,” Taylor wrote. “Our commitment is to incorporate what we learned at the workshop into our ongoing scientific assessment and to consider the regulatory needs and options on that basis.” In a statement thanking IOM for its work, Taylor said that since the workshop, FDA has been engaging with industry, consumers and the scientific community on the issue and appreciates “the voluntary restraint that some companies have shown as we continue to investigate safe levels of caffeine consumption.”