January 2, 2015 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning recommending that the public avoid powdered pure caffeine—especially bags sold over the internet. At least two young men who used powdered caffeine have died, the FDA reports.
A single teaspoon of pure caffeine is equal to the amount of caffeine in 25 cups of coffee. The products are essentially 100% caffeine, a powerful stimulant that can cause overdose even in very small amounts. It is virtually impossible to accurately measure powdered pure caffeine with common kitchen utensils, making it easy to consume a lethal amount accidentally.
Parents should be aware that products may be attractive to young people, the FDA cautions, such as students seeking to stay alert for exams at school.
Symptoms of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. Vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation are also symptoms of caffeine toxicity. These symptoms are likely to be much more severe than those resulting from drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages. High levels of caffeine can be particularly dangerous for those with heart conditions, but can be lethal to anyone.
If you believe that you are having an adverse reaction related to powdered caffeine, seek immediate medical care.
The FDA asks that you please report any adverse events with powdered pure caffeine or other highly caffeinated products by calling 240-402-2405 or emailing CAERS@cfsan.fda.gov.
FDA Voice: A blog by Mike Landa, Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, addresses how two tragic deaths highlight the dangers of powdered pure caffeine.
Logan James Stiner, an 18-year-old high school senior, prom king and athlete just days away from graduation, died in May at his Ohio home after taking powdered pure caffeine. He thought the powdered caffeine would be safer than energy drinks and healthier with less sugar and sodium,, and he carefully measured the dosing – but died the very first time he mixed the powder with milk and consumed it. Weeks later, James Wade Sweatt of Georgia, newly married and a recent graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, died after being in a coma caused by his use of powdered pure caffeine. His heart started beating out of control and stopped within minutes after he consumed the powdered caffeine, his father has said.
The industry maintains that the problem is with dosages and blames the deaths on misuse of the product.
But two Senators, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, both Democrats, want to ban the products from being sold in the U.S.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is also calling for a ban on powdered caffeine. Laura MacCleery, an attorney with the Center, says “It’s the most dangerous dietary supplement that’s on the market today.”