Have you ever looked for an energy boost in a smoky disco club? The solution is not in cola, but rather in citrus-flavored sodas. These are the results of a new research that also discovered that the amount of caffeine varies significantly from brand to brand and also within the products of the same brand.
The authors say labels should offer the consumers information on the caffeine levels.
"I don't really take a stand on whether caffeine is good or bad, but I do think the consumer has a right to know what they're getting," said co-author Leonard Bell, at Auburn University.
There is no caffeine limitation in food made by Food and Drug Administration.
"A 0.02 % caffeine content is generally recognized as safe for cola-type beverages," said FDA spokeswoman Veronica Castro.
This means 72 mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce (0.4 l) soft drink. The new study revealed the fact that the caffeine levels in 12-ounce sodas varied from 4.9 mg in a cola brand to 74 mg in Vault Zero, a citrus drink.
"People should be able to monitor their intake and to make informed choices because it can affect their sleep and can make some people jittery," said David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The Washington-based nonprofit first asked the FDA in 1997 to demand caffeine amounts to be shown on labels of the products.
"Rather than deterring shoppers, labeling might have the opposite effect on those seeking more caffeine," he said.
Most national brands present their lists of caffeine levels in their products on their websites.
Caffeine is found naturally in some products, like coffee, cocoa and tea, but it's just an additive in soft drinks, famous for its stimulatory effect and conferring a slightly bitter taste to beverages. Still, previous studies revealed that just 8 % of adults could make the difference between caffeinated and caffeine-free colas.
The authors determined caffeine levels in 56 national brand and 75 store brand carbonated beverages. As far as most known brands are concerned, the levels were: Coca-Cola (33.9 mg), Diet Pepsi (36.7 mg), Pepsi (38.9 mg), Dr Pepper (42.6 mg), Diet Dr Pepper (44.1 mg), Diet Coke (46.3 mg), Mountain Dew (54.8 mg) and Diet Mountain Dew (55.2 mg).
Just to get the idea, a 12-ounce coffee cup contains 156 to 288 mg of caffeine and the same tea quantity 30-135 mg.
"The caffeine data for store brand drinks is not easy to find and often isn't available at all." said Bell.