Frito-Lay Rolling Out New Cracker Jack'D Snack Line

Coffee flavors draw criticism, but company confident on safety

Published in CSP Daily News

PLANO, Texas -- A Frito-Lay spokesperson has dismissed criticism by a consumer watchdog group over caffeine in a yet-to-be-launched snack line. The Cracker Jack'D line, slated to be launched before the end of the year, "will contain a variety of products, including snack mixes, popcorn clusters and 'Power Bites' wafers. Among the Power Bites products are two flavors that will contain coffee, a natural source of caffeine, as an ingredient," Frito-Lay spokesperson Chris Kuechenmeister said in a statement provided to CSP Daily News.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is known for targeting such products as movie popcorn and energy drinks, got out ahead of the new product line's debut, saying in a press release: "If government regulators don't take some kind of action, products like Frito-Lay's Cracker Jack'D could set off a new craze in which manufacturers add caffeine to more and more varieties of foods and beverages."

Kuechenmeister said, "Because it is a natural constituent, the caffeine content of coffee varies. As the products have not yet been launched, we are still in the process of optimizing the product design. At this point, however, we expect them to contain approximately 70 mg of caffeine from coffee in each 2-oz. package."

"We stand by the safety of all products in the Cracker Jack'D line, including those that contain coffee. It is worth pointing out the regulation referenced in CSPI's letter to FDA speaks to caffeine--not coffee--and is not an exhaustive list of the safe uses of caffeine in foods and beverages. Rather it represents one particular recognized safe use."

"Cracker Jack'D is a product line specifically developed for adult consumers and will not be marketed to children. All marketing for the products will be exclusively aimed at adult consumers, and the package design and appearance are wholly different from Cracker Jack to ensure there is no confusion among consumers. The presence of coffee and the caffeine that comes with it is clearly called out on both the front and back of the package."

Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America is the $13 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo, which is based in Purchase, N.Y. PepsiCo is a global food and beverage leader with net revenues of more than $65 billion and a product portfolio that includes 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. Its main businesses are Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola.