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Caffeine Powder Concerns FDA, Energy Drinks Concern Denmark

Last week, the parents of two young men who died earlier this year after ingesting caffeine powder met with Food and Drug Administration officials to deliver a citizen petition urging the agency to ban the sale of powdered caffeine.

In a blog about the meeting, Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, wrote that the agency shares the hopes of Katie and Dennis Stiner and Julie and James Sweatt that other families will be spared such a loss.

Landa noted the consumer advisory about the dangers of pure, powdered caffeine that FDA published in the summer, adding that “We are working right now on our next steps.”

But for now, “I cannot say strongly enough how important it is to avoid using powdered pure caffeine,” Landa wrote. “The people most drawn to it are our children, teenagers, and young adults, especially students who want to work longer to study, athletes who want to improve their performance, and others who want to lose weight.”

The U.S. isn’t the country worried about young people’s caffeine consumption. In research published this week, the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark observed that many children and teens get too much caffeine from energy drinks.

The study found that when children aged 10-14 have energy drinks, one in five consumes too much caffeine. When their caffeine intake from other sources such as cola and chocolate is included, every second child and more than one in three adolescents aged 15-17 consumes too much caffeine.

The Institute estimates that energy drinks cause or contribute to a large proportion of children and adolescents exceeding the recommended maximum daily intake of caffeine. Children and young people can quickly exceed the maximum intake recommendation of 2.5 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight per day — even if they have a moderate consumption of energy drinks.

High intake of caffeine can cause side effects such as insomnia, restlessness, heart palpitations, irritability, nervousness and anxiety.

Echoing what concerns consumer advocates in the U.S., many Danish children and their parents are not aware of the ingredients in energy drinks, the side effects of drinking them, or the recommendation that children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should not drink them.

“It seems as if there has been a change in the perception of the types of drinks that people consider normal to drink,” said Jeppe Matthiessen, the study’s senior adviser. “Among younger consumers, energy drinks now have the same status as soft drinks had previously. Both the use of, and attitudes toward, energy drinks give us reason to be concerned that the intake will increase in the coming years, and we therefore suggest that more information will be made available about energy drinks aimed at children and adolescents as well as their parents.”

© Food Safety News
  • Jennifer Johns

    Caffeine is a legal drug, but the sale of pure caffeine should be regulated like the sale of other legal drugs. There should be a minimum age and possibly sold by prescription only. While it is difficult to OD on caffeine by drinking coffee and soda, pure caffeine powder and caffeine pills are very easy to OD on.