The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine, in which it estimates acute and daily intakes that raise no safety concerns for the general healthy population. The opinion also advises on the consumption of caffeine from all dietary sources in combination with physical exercise, and on the possible risks of consuming caffeine together with alcohol, with other substances found in so-called energy drinks, and with p-synephrine, a substance increasingly found in food supplements.
The assessment was finalised following extensive input from Member States, consumer groups, industry and other interested parties. This included a two-month online consultation and a stakeholder meeting in Brussels.
It is the first time that the risks from caffeine from all dietary sources have been assessed at EU level. A number of risk assessments have been carried out previously by national and other authoritative bodies around the world, which were thoroughly analysed by EFSA’s working group.
The European Commission asked EFSA to carry out its assessment after a number of Member States raised concerns about adverse health effects associated with caffeine consumption – particularly cardiovascular disease, problems related to the central nervous system (for example, interrupted sleep and anxiety), and possible risks to foetal health in pregnant women.
How much caffeine is it safe to consume?
On the basis of the data available, EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) reached the following conclusions:
- Single doses of caffeine up to 200mg – about 3mg per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg bw) from all sources do not raise safety concerns for the general healthy adult population. The same amount of caffeine does not raise safety concerns when consumed less than two hours prior to intense physical exercise under normal environmental conditions.
- Single doses of 100mg (about 1.4mg/kg bw) of caffeine may affect sleep duration and patterns in some adults, particularly when consumed close to bedtime.
- Intakes up to 400mg per day (about 5.7mg/kg bw per day) consumed throughout the day do not raise safety concerns for healthy adults in the general population, except pregnant women.
- Caffeine intakes from all sources up to 200mg per day consumed throughout the day do not raise safety concerns for the foetus.
Children and adolescents
- The single doses of caffeine considered to be of no concern for adults (3mg/kg bw per day) may also be applied to children, because the caffeine “clearance rate” in children and adolescents is at least that of adults, and the studies available on the acute effects of caffeine on anxiety and behaviour in children and adolescents support this level. A safety level of 3mg/kg bw per day is also proposed for habitual caffeine consumption by children and adolescents.
EFSA has also published a lay summary explaining the conclusions and context of its Scientific Opinion:
- Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine
- EFSA explains risk assessment: Caffeine
- Outcome of a public consultation on the draft Scientific Opinion of the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) on the safety of caffeine
- Caffeine: EFSA meets stakeholders
- EFSA-ANSES-BfR Expert Meeting on the safety of caffeine
- FAQs on the Safety of Caffeine
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