Assessing Dietary Exposure to Caffeine From Beverages in the U.S. Population Using Brand-Specific Versus Category-Specific Caffeine Values

Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2015;80:247-252

Abstract: Recent reports on caffeine intakes in the United States have highlighted the importance of obtaining accurate and valid measures of caffeine exposure. The objective of this study is to compare two methods of assigning caffeine values to beverages: brand-specific values versus an aggregate single value representing a broader range of products within a beverage category (i.e., category-specific). The two methods yielded some small, but statistically significant differences in the estimation of caffeine intake from coffee, tea, and carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) for all ages combined and within several of the adult age groups (i.e., 35–49, 50–64, and ≥65 years). These differences, while small, suggest that detailed brand-specific data, particularly for CSDs, commercially pre-packaged or bottled teas, coffee, and specialty coffee drinks, provide more accurate estimates of caffeine exposure for some age groups. Despite these differences, these data provide some assurance that studies using a single aggregate caffeine value provide reasonable measures of caffeine exposure, particularly for studies conducted over a decade ago when there were fewer caffeinated products and brand-specific data available. As the caffeinated beverage marketplace continues to evolve, the use of more detailed, brand-specific data will likely strengthen the assessment of caffeine exposure in the United States.

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This work was supported by the ILSI North America Caffeine Working Group.