Following deaths, FDA warns consumers about dangers of powdered caffeine

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The Food and Drug Administration began warning consumers about the potential dangers of powdered caffeine after two young people died last year after ingesting the increasingly popular stimulant.

Now, the FDA is warning some manufacturers that their products are ‘dangerous and present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”

In a statement released Tuesday, the agency said it has sent ‘warning letters’ to five different powdered caffeine distributors, stating that if the companies continue to sell these products as ‘dietary supplements’ — with their current ‘misleading’ labeling and instructions — the FDA could remove them from the shelves and even halt manufacturing of the products.

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The companies have 15 days to respond to the FDA, before the agency can take action.

Part of the FDA’s warning includes the concern that consumers may not be aware of the potency of pure powdered caffeine — and likely don’t know the difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose.

According to the FDA, one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is equivalent to the amount of caffeine found in about 28 cups of regular coffee. In its statement, the group went into more details about the potential risks of these products and how difficult it is to measure the recommended amount:

‘While consumers of caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, and soda may be aware of caffeine’s less serious effects – such as nervousness and tremors – they may not be aware that these pure powdered caffeine products are much more potent and can cause serious health effects, including rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. Vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation are also symptoms of caffeine toxicity.’

Read more: FDA proposes new nutrition label to warn about sugar


The statement continued: ‘Safe quantities of these products can be nearly impossible to measure accurately with common kitchen measuring tools. Volume measures, such as teaspoons, are not precise enough to calculate how many milligrams of caffeine are in the serving size. Pre-existing conditions can intensify the effects of caffeine and make the product more dangerous for these individuals.’

For updates and more information from the FDA, click here.

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