New York Senator Charles Schumer has called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate whether a new caffeinated peanut butter is safe. The spread in question is STEEM Peanut Butter, which has 150mg of caffeine per two-tablespoon serving and 1,200mg in a jar. At that dosage, one sandwich could have more caffeine than two cups of coffee, and the average consumption of 200mg per day. According to the FDA, safe doses top out around 400mg per day. It's worth noting, however, that a venti brewed coffee at Starbucks clocks 415mg.
Schumer's biggest concern is over accidental consumption by children. Caffeine can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, and even be fatal in the case of an overdose. While most parents don't have to worry about kids getting into their coffee, Schumer points out that peanut butter is a near-universal food for children.
"Last night I was with my three- and six-year-old cousins, and all they wanted for dinner was peanut butter," says Lisa Goldberg, a licensed clinical nutritionist. "Should they somehow get this peanut butter outside of their home, it could have grave side effects on such young bodies."
At the moment, STEEM can only be found online and in select stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut. If Senator Schumer gets his way, this wouldn’t be the first time the FDA pressured a caffeinated product off the shelves. Wrigley’s Alert Energy gum, which had 40mg of caffeine per piece, was discontinued, and the notorious Four Loko caffeinated alcoholic beverage had its formula drastically altered.
"To think that peanut butter, one of the snacks most closely associated with children, might have to be stored in the medicine cabinet as opposed to the kitchen cabinet should serve as a jolt to the FDA," Schumer stated.
Though STEEM is clearly marketed toward adults, Goldberg says parents looking for that caffeine buzz should hit Starbucks or the corner deli for some coffee. However, if kids aren't in the picture and you could use an extra jolt from your morning toast, cut back on your coffee intake, or switch to decaf, to make room for STEEM.