Dutch gov’t could ask EU to put limits on caffeine in food supplements

Food supplements containing caffeine often have high levels of the stimulant, which can cause people to have far more caffeine in their system than is healthy, according to a study conducted by public health agency RIVM. The Dutch health ministry is considering petitioning European leaders to consider placing stricter limits on caffeine in supplements, including those used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to boost their performance, but also those used by people to stay awake, concentrate, or lose weight.

The European Food Safety Authority has set a maximum amount of caffeine for different age groups. For adults, the safe amount is equal to between 4 and 6 cups of coffee per day. Too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure, headaches or restlessness, the RIVM said. "In the European Union, there is no legal limit for the maximum amount of caffeine in dietary supplements," the agency stated.

In the European Union, there is no maximum amount of caffeine in food supplements by law. "The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport will use the results of this study to request a limit on the amount of caffeine allowed in food supplements," the RIVM said.

"In addition to dietary supplements, people also consume caffeine through foods such as coffee, tea and chocolate. Combining such foods with dietary supplements that contain caffeine can lead to the safe intake of caffeine being exceeded more quickly."

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