Caffeinated peanut butter raising concerns from nutritionists and lawmakers

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.

Caffeinated peanut butter is catching the attention of Valley nutritionists and now, a U.S. senator.

Nutritionist Tawnie Kroll invited us 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," said Tawnie Kroll, nutritionist and food blogger.

As a local nutrition expert and food blogger, Tawnie ordered the peanut butter to look into its claims. She says she was startled by the caffeine content. "This for 2 tablespoons. That's 150 milligrams -- so that's 5 times a can of Coca-Cola."

Peanut butter is the latest food to be caffeinated, and Tawnie says 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. You can get tachycardia, that fast heartbeat you can get tremors."

Those potential health dangers are what promoted U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York to take action with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 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 in a statement saying, "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 said 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. 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 agreeing, it's a snack for adults only.

The makers of "Steem Caffeinated Peanut Butter" also say they've complied with all product regulations and welcome a review of their peanut butter by Senator Schumer or a federal authority. Senator Schumer hopes the FDA considers pulling the peanut butter from the market.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.