CHOICE membership

Caffeine Hypersensitivities and Food Containing Caffeine

I have an intolerance to caffeine, but the manufacturers don’t seem to think that we need to know if or how much caffeine is in products. Caffeine affects my heart, and I guess there could be a lot of other people in the same situation. The most common ones are of course tea and coffee, which I know to avoid, but what else is it in?
Is it in chocolate, soda drinks, etc. We need to know. Also they add water to most packaged items, we need to know if it is fluoride free or not. Another product they add is bromide to bread. Is it naturally occurring in flour, or is it added to flour, and then many commercial bread has bromide added to it. Bromide apparently belongs to the chlorine family, and is listed as having a similar affect on the brain to fluoride. Is that the reason for the increase in alzeimers?

1 Like

Chocolate contains an amount of Caffeine but it varies as there are many factors affecting levels.

A good read from professional Chocolatiers may be of interest:

Bromide in bread, this relates to the use of Potassium Bromate? Lauke who produce a large number of flours and bread mixes have the good info on this:

From https://www.laucke.com.au/knowledge-base/understanding-food-additives “its use has been prohibited since January 1992”, so no Bromide in our Breads. About the only Country which may still allow it’s use is USA…not here. Iodine may be added to increase iodine levels and it may be confused by some with Bromine as Bromide/Bromate, a related product/chemical.

The reason for banning it is because it has been linked to cancers and from the linked article below " In 1982, researchers in Japan published the first of a series of studies showing that potassium bromate causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys and other body parts of rats and mice.

As a result of these findings, countries around the world banned the additive, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held back, in part because the amount of potassium bromate that remains in bread after baking should be negligible: less than 20 parts per billion (ppb)."

For a more broad world views of Bromides presence:

https://www.livescience.com/36206-truth-potassium-bromate-food-additive.html

Fluorine as a Fluoride in bread is naturally present as it is adsorbed through root uptake out of the soil and ground water which both naturally contain fluorine as fluoride compounds (as naturally occurring compounds). It is not as added chemical/s in Australia to food preparations.

The Bromide and Fluoride additives you have described are always the subject of conspiracy theories and misinformation. While I am a “remove fluoride as an additive from tap water” person I do not subscribe to the fringe disinformation often spread online by some groups. Some good research often and easily dispels the obvious and often US centric errors.

6 Likes

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has requirements for the maximum caffeine content in foods/beverages and also in the product label. Their web site answers many of the questions we may have concerning what is permitted in food products. They also cover labelling and the ingredients including food additives in products.

Specifically for caffeine:
https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine.aspx

3 Likes

Yes bromine, chlorine and fluorine are in the same group in the periodic table. They have some properties in common. However the further apart they are the less similar they are. Chlorine is in between the other two so fluorine and bromine have little in common other than they are non-metals that typically have valence of one. When in combination with a metal they become ions so they are called fluorides, chlorides and bromides, which is how they are mainly found in nature not as the element.

As far as I know none of them cause alzheimer’s disease. There has been much said about the health effects of fluorides which is not supported by scientific evidence. Even if fluoride was harmful it is much closer to chloride than bromide so salt (sodium chloride) would be more a risk than bromides.

The bromine that may be used in bread is there as potassium bromate, which is not the same as bromide. As far as I can tell this bread improver has not been permitted in Oz since 1992. The reasons for banning it have nothing to do with alzheimer’s disease.

Why?

Most tap water in Oz is still fluoridated so unless it is carefully filtered prior to manufacture the chances are food products contain traces of it.

4 Likes

Potassium bromide isn’t allowed as a food additive in Australia or Europe, unlike the USA where it is permitted as a flour improver…so the statement that it is added to commercially made bread in Australia is incorrect.

If it is added as caffeine to a food product, such as energy drinks, it needs to he included as an ingredient on the label and the label needs to indicate the product contains caffeine. If it occurs naturally in foods, it doesn’t need to be labelled as containing caffeine (with exception of guarana). If one is sensitive to or has a health response to caffeine, then one would know what foods/food ingredients naturally contain caffeine so that they can be avoided. An example would be ice coffee containing coffee (which is known to contain caffeine).

4 Likes

As a general comment Google, has a habit of returning a mixture of both reliable and misleading content.

As an informed Choice member looking firstly to the source of comment or content is one way of sorting out the usefulness of the search results. I think we are extremely fortunate Australia has a broad selection of government, community and industry funded organisations providing online content.

There are many special interest groups (SIGs), businesses and quasi representative bodies also offering opinions. Sorting the reliable from the misleading and outright mischievous is always a challenge.

Hence:
With water in food products, fluorine the chemical is the 13th most abundant element on the planet, is near impossible to totally avoid. It’s always found in nature although typically bound with some other element.

https://www.livescience.com/28779-fluorine.html

Apparently it’s even essential for our very existence. As well as a fluoride at 1 part per million in the tap water most of us use every day Calcium fluoride is also found in natural spring water.

4 Likes

This was a reply to the contribution to caffeine.
“but if one is sensitive to or has a health response to caffeine, then one would know what foods/food ingredients naturally contain caffeine so that they can be avoided.”
The problem is with this answer is, we don’t know what foods naturally include caffeine, so how are we to find out if they do occur naturally. The reaction to caffeine is not immediate, it builds up over time, so by the time one knows that they have had too much, one can’t relate it back to any particular food unless it is listed.

1 Like

It is very easy to find out. There is much information available online or in literature of foods which naturally contain caffeine. One can also ask a health professional or qualified dietitian and they will able to give a list of food/food ingredients to avoid. If one has a health condition triggered by caffeine, this would have been diagnosed and information of foods to avoid should have been provided at the time of diagnosis.

Caffeine doesn’t build up in the body and is metabolised by the body relatively quickly. It only lasts a few hours. If it built up, then it would quickly reach toxic levels and would be banned by governments everywhere.

4 Likes

I was never given any information that you talk about. Doctors don’t seem to take it seriously. One doctor had me on heart tables, an when I went to another doctor she told me that the heart tablets had been taken off the market, without any mention on what I should do, until I asked her. The new doctor did not give me any information other than don’t drink tea or coffee.

1 Like

Depending on where you are located and the options for GP’s available to you, it reads like you need to try more GP’s if you can.

Some GP’s operate in a manner whereby they expect the patient to ask questions and are not always voluntarily forthcoming, while others are more proactive in providing advice. For myself I prefer the latter who do not have problems with my asking questions.

An example is that some GPs will recommend periodic ‘wellness checks’ (cancer scans, heart checks and so on) and others will just see you once a year for a basic blood test sequence unless you ask about anything else.

3 Likes

I found some GPs’ were not even aware that caffeine can cause a heart problem. The trouble is caffeine doesn’t affect you straight away, so by the time it does affect you it is a bit hard to find out what the cause was.

There is a lot of information available about the impacts of caffeine on blood and atrial fibrillation pressure when consumed in excess through the diet (either drinks, foods or supplements). There have been reports of deaths caused from overdosing, that being when caffeine is consumed at levels which may be toxic.

Possibly if one doesn’t disclose a high consumption of caffeine drinks/foods when seeing a doctor, the doctor may not be able to determine through a normal consultation that their patient is a high consumer of caffeine.

Are you trying to say that there is scientific evidence that there is a long term effect of consuming any caffeine, even if it is in very small amounts…say over many years or decades? There are reports of long term effects when caffeine is consumed in high quantities regularly, but little evidence that it has any long term effects is consumed at low or moderate levels.

The Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation has some information on caffeine and potential risks of its high consumption (4 cups per day):

I expect that the 4 cups is a conservative number so that it ‘catches’ most of the population. I also expect that some individuals may have caffeine sensitives which means less than 4 cups may result in a reaction/health concern. It appears from this website that some individuals may a hyposensitivity to caffeine. Likewise the same website indicates that 10% of the population have a gene which is linked to higher caffeine intake.

2 Likes

Hi @hmpk12, I have created a new thread for Caffeine Hypersensitivities as it may contain information useful to other community members. Having a separate thread makes it more conspicuous within the Choice Community.

2 Likes

I am VERY sensitive to caffeine, even if I have decaffinated coffee (which isn’t caffeine free) I can only have one or two before I’m bouncing and my heart is racing. I avoid caffinated tea, coffee, cola, pepsi, red bull, cold and flu medication, codeine based medication etc

1 Like