'Early Show' Brews Up Hype on Decaf Coffee

     The media’s daily grind against the food industry continued as CBS warned viewers that even decaf coffee isn’t decaffeinated enough.


     “If you are having decaf with your breakfast this morning, we have some shocking news,” co-host Rene Syler informed viewers of the October 12 “Early Show.” “A new study finds most decaffeinated coffee drinks contains some caffeine,” Syler added as she introduced a story by correspondent Randall Pinkston.


     But decaffeinating a drink is no guarantee that it removes all the caffeine, and health experts have known that for years. Yet CBS’s Pinkston portrayed the “shocking” revelation as a hidden health threat.


    “Thousands of people do drink decaf because of health issues,” for medical reasons “but if you drink decaffeinated coffee because you think you’re eliminating” the stimulant, “think again,” cautioned Pinkston, pointing to a recently published study from the University of Florida.


     Scientists found “caffeine concentrations of up to 14 milligrams per 16-ounce cup.” That works out to less than one-tenth the caffeine in a regular cup of coffee.


     That could be a problem, said Pinkston because “doctors say just 10 milligrams can give a sensitive person the jitters.”


     But how new is this scientific discovery? “Go Ask Alice,” a question-and-answer feature from Columbia University’s Health Promotion Program informed readers of the low-caffeine content in decaf coffee five years ago.


    In a Sept. 7, 2001, posting entitled “Does caffeine raise blood pressure,” “Alice” noted that it’s advisable for patients with hypertension to “limit or eliminate caffeine from their eating plan” and suggested that “people who cannot give up good ol’ java” could turn to decaf coffee. “Alice” noted that a decaf cup of Joe has “a typical caffeine content of about 5 mg per 8 oz. cup (versus 135 mg of caffeine for the regular brew).”


     “Alice” also suggested hot cocoa as a coffee alternative that also delivers “approximately 5 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. mug” while also benefiting drinkers with calcium.


     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented how the network morning shows have gone on an anti-java jihad.  On the June 19 “Good Morning America,” ABC’s Elisabeth Leamy treated Starbucks coffee to scrutiny from the liberal Center for Science in the Public Interest. Two days later, CBS correspondent Susan McGinnis worried about American teenagers hanging out after-school at coffee shops.


     “Coffee has always been considered an adult drink, but today coffee drinkers are much, much younger” with “many teens” downing java as “a daily ritual,” the reporter warned on the June 21 “Early Show.”