March 20, 2024

Catching The Buzz: Consumers Are Caffeinated Yet Confused About Safety, Research Reveals

(Washington, D.C.) — In recognition of Caffeine Awareness Month, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) published new consumer research revealing Americans’ knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors regarding caffeine consumption amounts, sources, and safety.  

“While many Americans regularly consume and enjoy caffeine’s benefits, it is also important to identify and address knowledge gaps surrounding this ingredient. As an educational nonprofit sitting at the intersection of science, food, and the consumer, we believe exploring consumer insights on this popular ingredient and communicating science-based information on its safety is important,” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, IFIC President & CEO, said.  

Caffeine Culture: Consumers Seek Energy And Respond To Routine  

From the first sip in the morning to a late-night evening surge, caffeinated food and beverages have undeniably integrated themselves into the fabric of Americans’ daily routines. The majority of Americans (88%) consume caffeine, with 8 in 10 reporting they consume it daily, and nearly half (47%) reporting they consume it multiple times a day.  

The main reasons for consuming caffeine? Over half (51%) reported that “it’s part of my routine,” and 30% simply “enjoy the taste.” Another 30% reach for caffeine for the “quick boost of energy.” Other top-listed benefits include making consumers feel awake/alert for longer periods of time (13%), and simply that it’s already an included ingredient in products they are choosing (11%).  

Coffee remains king when it comes to preferred source of caffeine (54%), followed by soft drinks (17%), energy drinks (7%), and tea (7%). Other sources included desserts and candies (10%), as well as energy shots, pills, dietary supplements, and medications (2%).  

Consumers Are Confused About Caffeine Recommendations And Amounts 

While it is clear consumers seek caffeine—and often—confusion remains when it comes to how much caffeine is recommended, and what that amount translates to in terms of commonly consumed caffeinated foods and beverages.  

Eight in ten Americans agree that caffeine is safe to consume, but many are uncertain about the amount of caffeine in commonly consumed foods and beverages. Many Americans are also unaware of caffeine intake recommendations. Almost half of consumers (46%) are “not sure” how much caffeine is considered safe for healthy adults to consume each day. Additionally, only one in three correctly recognized the federal government’s role in approving the safe use of caffeine as an ingredient.  

“When respondents were asked, ‘How much coffee do you believe a healthy (non-pregnant) person can safely consume each day?’ only 8% answered correctly,” Tony Flood, IFIC Senior Director, Food Safety said. “That means 92% of Americans are potentially confused about the correct amount of caffeine they should be consuming each day. And since our survey found Americans are consuming caffeine daily, there is an opportunity to educate the public.” 

Education Opportunities Brewing 

“Regularly consuming and enjoying caffeine is part of American culture. Still, our research confirms that there are plenty of knowledge gaps regarding caffeine safety that must be addressed,” Reinhardt Kapsak said. “Helping consumers feel informed and empowered by science is our mission. We look forward to working with others to bring science-based information about caffeine to the public.” 

For more information about caffeine, including its safety and benefits, please visit: 

To view the educational webinar about caffeine, please visit: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Research Methodology 

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) commissioned an online research survey with consumers based in the US to measure knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about caffeine. One thousand adults aged 18+ years completed the survey from January 12-16, 2024, and responses were weighted to ensure proportional results. The Bayesian confidence level for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the 95% confidence level.   


The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization with a mission to effectively communicate science-based information about food safety, nutrition, and sustainable food systems, serving the public good. To fulfill this mission and demonstrate its thought leadership in action, IFIC: 1) delivers best-in-class research and consumer insights to inform food, nutrition, and health stakeholders; 2) promotes science communications to positively impact consumer behavior and public health; and 3) convenes critical thought leaders to advance the food systems dialogue and science-based decision-making. For more information, visit and our resource hub; Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly known as Twitter) and sign up for our newsletter here.