Peanut butter is a nearly perfect food—delicious, creamy, full of protein and healthy fats. But one company thought it was missing something important: caffeine.
With 170 milligrams of caffeine per 2 tablespoon serving, STEEM Peanut Butter has the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee. Its label also boasts electrolytes and protein, making it, the company says, “perfect not only for athletes and active people, but also for normal life.”
Not everyone thinks the idea of caffeine via peanut butter is a great idea, though, especially since peanut butter is particularly popular with children. The New York Post reports that New York senator Charles Schumer is now calling for an US Food and Drug Administration review of the product.
“This may look like an ordinary jar of peanut butter, and it may cost the same as a jar of peanut butter, but the fact is, it’s much more dangerous than an ordinary jar of peanut butter,” Schumer said.
Currently available in just a handful of stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, STEEM peanut butter, Schumer worries, could be a Trojan horse for other caffeine-heavy products to make their way onto US grocery store shelves and into US consumers’ pantries.
“If they allow it, it can spread to all kinds of other snacks, even Popsicles, candy, things that kids eat. It needs some regulation. We need the FDA to let everyone know they’re not asleep at the wheel about the high levels of caffeine being infused into our snacks,” Schumer said.
Calling for the regulation of caffeinated products has become something of a specialty for the senator, who called for the ban of caffeinated alcoholic drinks in 2010 following a New York Times story on their dangers. The FDA took action that month, sending warning letters to producers about their unapproved mixtures. This year, Schumer called for a ban on powdered caffeine; a few months later, the FDA sent warning letters to five manufacturers.
In a statement to Quartz, STEEM said it has “complied with any and every obligation we were required to before putting our product out on shelves” and welcomes FDA or any other federal oversight so that the agencies “can see that STEEM is perfectly safe when used as directed.” The company said that its product is marketed to adults and clearly provides information about serving sizes and caffeine content on the label.
The FDA did not immediately respond Quartz’s request for comment but told amNewYork that it would respond to the senator’s request upon receipt of a letter from him.