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EU food agency: Don't drink more than five espressos a day

Drinking more than five espressos a day could be bad news for health, according to the EU's food safety agency. The recommendation is the result of a Europe-wide review into the risks of caffeine.

The EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says an adult's daily caffeine intake should ideally remain below 400 milligrams per day - that's roughly the same as five single espressos, or five standard cans of energy drink.

The EFSA review marks the first time the risks from caffeine ingested from different sources, apart from just coffee, have been assessed at a European level.

Keeping to the recommended 400-milligram limit "does not give rise to safety concerns for healthy adults in the general population, except pregnant women," the EFSA said in its 120-page report, published Wednesday.

Pregnant women, the agency added, should cap their daily intake at 200 milligrams to protect the fetus, while young people should also keep tabs on how much caffeine they consume - limiting it to three miligrams per kilo of body mass.

"An adolescent who drinks a coffee, a coke, and two or three red bulls every day would easily exceed this limit," an EFSA spokesman told AFP.

The EFSA was tasked with setting a European benchmark for safe caffeine consumption after some countries raised concerns about the potentially dangerous impacts of the stimulant on the heart and nervous system.

But sticking to the 400-milligram limit may not actually be much of a sacrifice for many Europeans. During its review, the EFSA discovered that the average daily intake among adults across the continent ranges between 37 and 319 milligrams of caffeine. Denmark had the highest caffeine consumption with 33 percent of consumers exceeding the 400 milligram daily limit. The Netherlands was second with 17.6 percent, followed by Germany on 14.6 percent.

nm/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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