FDA targets potentially lethal caffeine powder
Because their stories were not, in large part, picked up by national news sources nor disseminated outside of their home state, the two Ohio men, ages 18 and 24, who died after consuming caffeine powder supplement in 2014 are not familiar to most New Jersey residents. However, their stories may now be nationally significant insofar as they, alongside similar cases, have prompted the Food and Drug Administration to considering taking responsive regulatory action. Already, the FDA has issued a warning on its website regarding the significant risks of using the supplement.
Caffeine naturally occurs in more than 60 plants, but caffeine powder is lab-created and infrequently used in foods, medicines and soda. Teens and young adults have started using caffeine powder to stay up late, boost workouts and lose weight. According to the FDA, this kind of habit can cause high caffeine consumption, which research suggests may lead to high blood pressure, dehydration and heartburn.
One teaspoon of caffeine powder has the same amount of caffeine as 25 cups of coffee, purportedly. Two teaspoons is can be lethal. The national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that almost 21,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms every year because of caffeine overdose.
Measuring out safe doses of caffeine powder is nearly impossible with everyday kitchen utensils, authorities say. The FDA says its power to regulate caffeine powder is limited if it is sold as a supplement. Banning the product’s general sale might take interference from the Justice Department, reportedly.
Sellers of caffeine powder that do not provide disclaimers or warnings about the product’s effects as well as the lack of FDA approval might be held responsible for customers’ injuries under products liability laws. Affected consumers could get help determining whether they have a case by talking to lawyers.