Valley nutritionists ask: caffeinated peanut butter?

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new way to get a boost of energy combines the jolt of coffee with one of the most popular family foods, it's caffeinated peanut butter

It's catching the attention of valley nutritionists and now, a US senator. Nutritionist Tawnie Kroll invited an Action News reporter into her Clovis home for a taste test to compare regular peanut butter and caffeinated peanut butter.

Under the name, Steem, the new snack food is sold in a handful of states and online and concern about it, is spreading. "I don't necessarily recommend it for a family," Kroll said.
"As a local nutrition expert and food blogger, Kroll ordered the peanut butter to look into its claims."

She said she was startled by the caffeine content. "This for 2 tablespoons, that's 150 milligrams so that's five times a can of Coca-Cola," Kroll exclaimed.

Peanut butter is the latest food to be "caffeinated" and Tawnie said over-consumption can lead to some serious health dangers. "It can also cause you to be more anxious give you those jitters and leading more into the acute clinical toxicity of the caffeine," Kroll said. "You can get tachycardia, that fast heartbeat, you can get tremors."

Those potential health dangers are what promoted Senator Chuck Schumer of New York to take action with the Food and Drug Administration. On his website, he urges the FDA to immediately investigate caffeinated peanut butter, saying it is even scarier to think what might happen if a child ate a sandwich made with caffeinated peanut butter; just one sandwich could contain more caffeine than two cups of coffee.

The makers of Steem peanut butter responded to Schumer's claims, telling Action News in a statement, "our goal is not to over-caffeinate people, it's to give them a more efficient alternative so they'll need less."

The company also says it markets only to adults and its serving recommendations are for safe use.

The makers promise a jolt without lots of added sugar or unpronounceable ingredients and as an alternative to that second cup of coffee. But as a nutritionist, Tawnie is glad to see one more thing on the label.

They do state on their label, not intended for children, pregnant women, those who are lactating, pets, so they do put the warning out there. But moms like Katie Lane of Clovis tell us caffeinated peanut butter in the pantry could easily get into kids' hands.

"I think it's a good idea everyone loves to combine different things," Lane said. "But she does eat peanut butter sandwiches all the time. It would be an easy mistake if I was busy or she grabbed it."

Parents and the peanut butter maker agree; it's a snack for adults only.
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