Caffeinated peanut butter sounds super until you remember the kids

Nov 11, 2015 at 3:44 p.m. ET

A spoonful of protein-rich peanut butter on a hectic day can give you a real boost — and new, caffeine-spiked version promises to do even better.

But just 2 tablespoons of STEEM peanut butter has the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee. So New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the FDA to investigate the safety of the caffeinated product.

Though getting a dose of protein, healthy fats and caffeine in one food sounds like a dream for a busy woman on the go, if that same peanut butter made its way into a child's lunch, the results could be dire.

More: Everything you need to know about kids and caffeine

Journal of Food Science recommends that children between 4 and 12 ingest only 45 milligrams of caffeine daily, but STEEM's caffeinated peanut butter has a whopping 150 milligrams per serving.

On hectic mornings, making lunch for the kids is hard enough without having to worry about using the right peanut butter, and it seems like it would be all too easy to accidentally reach for the wrong jar. And a mischievous snacker who gets into the pantry and grabs the wrong jar of peanut butter might not stop at a 2-tablespoon serving. Considering that one serving of STEEM's product has way more caffeine in it than a child should be consuming anyway, the thought of a little kid going overboard with it is truly scary.

More: 4 Cups of coffee a day is the limit, says new EU study

However, STEEM is arguing that it went through all the appropriate channels when bringing its product to market. The company told Quartz that it "complied with any and every obligation we were required to before putting our product out on shelves" and said it welcomes a further look from the FDA so that the administration "can see that STEEM is perfectly safe when used as directed."

I'm glad the company has taken its product's safety seriously so far and is inviting the FDA to take a closer look — because it's necessary. While it's easy for adults to read the back of the jar and understand that this product is different from regular peanut butter, a lot of young kids won't be able to read the jar at all. The company currently has a warning on the label that the product isn't suitable for young children, but it could do more — maybe a childproof lid, like the kind you would find on a medicine bottle, would help to prevent any tragedies.

At the end of the day, it's easy to say that parents should just keep the peanut butter away from their kids, but I think that as manufacturers, it's STEEM's responsibility to ensure that its product is safe for everyone.

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