- Drinking more than four cups may be harmful to health, states new report
- This is the caffeine equivalent of four espressos, or 400mg
- Risk is high for pregnant women, who should drink no more than two cups
- Consumers ‘must also factor in the caffeine found in energy drinks’
Four cups of coffee should be the maximum a person drinks in a day, new guidelines state. And consuming any more than the caffeine equivalent of four espressos a day is harmful to health, the EU food safety agency said today.
The risk is particularly high for pregnant women – who should have a maximum of two cups a day – and young people.
This is the first time that the risks from caffeine from all dietary sources have been assessed at EU level.
And today, the authority recommended that an adult’s daily caffeine intake remain below 400 milligrammes a day.
Deciding a recommended limit was a request of the European Commission, in an effort to find a Europe-wide benchmark for caffeine consumption.
The European Food Safety Authority carried out the scientific study after some countries raised concerns about the health effects of caffeine on the heart and central nervous system, as well as possible risks to foetuses.
The review concluded that consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day ‘does not give rise to safety concerns for non-pregnant adults’, although pregnant women should cap their intake at 200 mg to protect unborn children. The limit is fairly generous, with average daily intake among European adults aged 18-65 ranging between 37 and 319 mg, according to the agency.
A single espresso contains around 80 mg of caffeine, the same as a standard can of energy drink such as Red Bull, while a black tea has around 50 mg and a can of cola 40 mg.
Caffeine: Table shows a range of drinks in order of caffeine content and their relation to daily allowances
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According to NHS data, one mug of instant coffee contains about 100mg of caffeine, while a mug of filter coffee contains about 140mg.
A cup of tea and a can of cola contain 75mg and 40mg, respectively.
Researchers found that men who drank between 85mg and 170mg of caffeine daily were 42 per cent less likely to report impotence than those who drank none.
And those who drank between 171 and 303mg of caffeine were 39 per cent less likely.
‘Caffeine intakes from all sources up to 400 mg per day consumed throughout the day do not give rise to safety concerns for healthy adults in the general population, except pregnant women,’ the report concluded. Expectant mothers should not exceed half that amount, the agency added, while children should consume no more than three milligrammes per kilo of body mass. Aside from the the consumption of espressos and lattes, the report also took a closer look at the consumption of Red Bull-style energy drinks that are especially popular with the young.
‘The main message of the report is that consumers must account for caffeine consumption from sources other than coffee,’ an EU spokesman told AFP. ‘The health risk is not enormous, but it exists,’ he added.
The view of the EFSA echoes that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has also cited 400 mg of caffeine daily as an amount not generally associated with negative effects
Published: 27 May 2015. By Anna Hodgekiss
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