Is Coffee FDA Approved? (A Detailed Discussion)

The FDA approves coffee as safe for consumption and notes that the high number of antioxidants it contains makes it a healthy addition to one’s diet.

The whole world drinks coffee every day. It’s part of their daily ritual. After all, caffeine gives an immediate jolt of energy and even elevates your mood. Plus, it’s delicious.

Whatever the reason may be, coffee has become a strong addition to our daily diet, but what does the FDA say about your daily caffeine fix?

Let’s find out together.

What Does The FDA Say About Coffee?

The FDA approves of coffee and even considers it healthy due to its many benefits.

The Food and Drug Administration is an agency that works under the Department of Health and Human Services in America. Its responsibilities include protecting and promoting the health of the public by managing and monitoring food safety, dietary tobacco items, prescription drugs, supplements, medications, blood transfusions, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, vaccines, cosmetics, animal feed, and veterinary products.

So, what do they have to say about coffee?

They recommend drinking coffee every day because of coffee’s many benefits.

How Much Caffeine Is A Lot According To The FDA?

The daily caffeine intake limit set by the FDA is 400 mg. If you exceed this limit, you may face irreversible effects that can even be fatal in some cases.

When you are responsible for managing the health of the public, you have to be very precise. And that’s what the FDA does. After a lot of research done by the Food and Administration on caffeine, they have come to the conclusion, that 400 mg is a safe limit for consuming caffeine on a daily basis.  

So, in conclusion, 400 mg of caffeine is safe no matter what the source.

Is Coffee Regulated By FDA?

The Food and Drug Administration does regulate coffee. Any drink or food item that is available in America is regulated by ghd FDA.

The FDA is responsible for regulating all of the food and beverages that are available to the public for consumption. Though there are some food categories that are solely governed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meats like beef, lamb, pork, poultry, eggs, and products made from them are subject to USDA food regulations. Upon arrival in the United States, and even before, imported foods and beverages are subject to FDA regulation.

Among the food safety regulations of the FDA are adulteration (contamination), processing, labeling (misbranding), facility registration, and ingredient notices.

roasted coffee beans and scattered on every surface

So, when it comes to coffee every kind of coffee is regulated by the FDA, from decaffeinated to regular to instant, the FDA regulates it all.   

Below I have made a list of foods and beverages that are regulated by the FDA.

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Processed foods
  • Canned foods
  • Infant food
  • Pet foods
  • Dairy and dairy products
  • Seafood and seafood products
  • Bottled water
  • Drinks like beverages, juices and sodas.

You can watch this video below if you want to understand better

Is Starbucks FDA Approved?

A Starbucks cup

Any coffee and tea processor needs to get an FDA-approved Facility Registration first in order to start selling their product. The FDA has also approved Starbucks for its recyclable packaging.

As mentioned above, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating every food and beverage item in the USA including coffee. So, big coffee chains like Starbucks need to get a Facility Registration. All coffee and tea-related big names are required to get one from the FDA. Then after acquiring your Facility Registration, they need to get FDA Registration Certificate. This is required to enter the industry and start providing your product to the market.

So, if we talk about Starbucks, they do have approval from the FDA. That’s the reason they were able to begin and enter the coffee market on such a massive scale. But what about the coffee?

As mentioned earlier, coffee is approved by the FDA and deemed as a healthy beverage and safe for consumption. Therefore, coffee can be sold by anyone. Nothing special is needed in order to get approved when it comes to coffee. Starbucks has its own concoctions of coffee that they sell, which are not required to get approved by any agency. It’s like asking FDA to approve you having a late-night ice cream cause you’re on a diet. It doesn’t work like that.

Below I’ve prepared a table for the top 5 drinks of Starbucks with their caffeine and sugar content for a tall 12 oz cup.

CoffeeCaffeineSugar
Brewed Coffee200 mg0g
Flat White130 mg13 g
Caffe Mocha 95 mg27 g
Cappuccino 75 mg12 g
Mocha Java Frappe 90 mg43 g

Lastly, I would like to add that Starbucks sure got one approval from the Food and Drug Administration which other coffee chains don’t have at the moment. And that is to use and recycle hot cup beverage packaging materials in order to reduce toxic waste and pollution.

Why Does The FDA Not Regulate Caffeine?

The FDA doesn’t regulate caffeine at the very moment. This is because they make a clear distinction between caffeine from over-the-counter drugs, conventional foods, and dietary supplements.

The Food and Drug Administration are responsible for making decisions that are in the best interest of public health and safety regarding food and beverage. They have no regulation regarding caffeine as it occurs naturally in products like coffee and tea. In 1980, when FDA took notice of the added caffeine effects in carbonated sodas, the whole industry went against them and opposed them. Therefore, now, for carbonated sodas and beverages where caffeine is added as an ingredient, a 0.02% limit is set for a 12 oz can.

Another thing that caffeine can be found in is caffeine powder and pills which are used for various purposes. An excerpt from the National Coffee Association shares how the FDA has been even doing research on caffeine pills and powder. The press release given by the FDA on highly concentrated caffeine powder and caffeine products suggests that such products contain more than 3000 mg per teaspoon. But they are only required to add to the label the content of caffeine added.

Though continuous studies are going on regarding caffeine and human health, the NCDT data suggests that 46% of American consumers cite caffeine-related health concerns as a major reason for drinking less coffee.

When Was Caffeine Approved By The FDA?

Caffeine was approved by the FDA in 1958s. After that, no such changes have been made in the regulation for caffeine.

Since 1958, the number of caffeine-containing products has multiplied dramatically. The FDA last proposed changes to regulation regarding caffeine in the 1980s.

At levels not exceeding the set limit by the FDA, caffeine is generally safe for use in beverages. It is for this reason that caffeine can be found in certain foods, beverages, dietary supplements, and medications. The most popular caffeine sources are coffee and tea, which are consumed by people around the world.

coffee berries on the coffee plant.

FDA Coffee Labeling Requirements

For caffeine and caffeine-containing products like coffee, tea, dietary supplements, over-the-counter drugs, there are no such requirements to mention the quantity of caffeine. However, carbonated drinks like energy drinks need to mention caffeine as an ingredient on the label.

As a matter of regulation, caffeine and caffeine-containing products such as coffee and tea in the United States have no special regulations on labeling. The list also includes over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and dietary supplements. Added caffeine in carbonated drinks and other conventional food and beverage items must be listed as an ingredient, but the quantity is not required to be stated. This rule also applies to dietary supplements too.

But for foods that have caffeine naturally occurring they don’t have to mention it. Like coffee jelly or coffee milk don’t have to mention that it contains caffeine.

So, What’s the Conclusion?

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for seeing to public health regarding food and beverages that are available for consumption in the U.S. Therefore, coffee is one such thing that is regulated by them. Though caffeine isn’t regulated by them, they have set limits for safety. The daily intake limit set by the FDA is 400 mg.

Also, when it comes to labeling, caffeine as an ingredient needs to be mentioned on dietary supplements and carbonated sodas. Though it’s not necessary to mention the quantity.

Marty Spargo

Caffeine aficionado and coffee student (if there's such a thing!). I've come to love coffee in recent years and share what I learn along the way on this website.

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