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Food Safety Focus (87th Issue, October 2013) – Food Incident Highlight

Caffeine in Coffee and Milk Tea

Recently, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has conducted a joint study with the Consumer Council on the caffeine levels in various non-prepackaged coffee and milk tea available in the local market. The CFS advises children, pregnant and lactating women, and caffeine-sensitive individuals to be mindful about their caffeine intake.

Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. It occurs naturally in plants like coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, cola nuts etc. It may also be added to food and beverages for its bitter taste and stimulating effects. Tolerance to caffeine differs between individuals. Excessive caffeine intake may cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, tremor, sleep disturbance, stomach upset, increased risk of giving birth to low birth weight babies in pregnant women and transient behavioural change in children.

In general, consumption of caffeine-containing drinks in moderation, in the context of a balanced diet, should cause no harm to healthy individuals. However, caffeine sensitivity varies among different individuals. Children are advised not to drink coffee and milk tea and to maintain a balanced and varied diet. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid excessive caffeine intake. Caffeine-sensitive individuals should be aware of their own sensitivity and tolerance to caffeine and adjust their caffeine intake accordingly.