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CSPI Wants FDA to Ban Sales of Bulk Caffeine

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale of pure, powdered or liquid caffeine as a dietary supplement.

“CSPI believes that highly concentrated caffeine presents a unique, self-evident danger to consumers that justifies an immediate ban and corresponding adjustments to FDA’s regulations,” states the petition submitted Tuesday.

The organization hopes that a ban would prevent “unreasonable risks to adolescents and others from overdoses of caffeine.” Just one teaspoon of powdered caffeine, or about 3 grams, is equivalent to drinking 25 cups of coffee.

A lethal dose of caffeine is estimated to be about 10-14 grams for an adult and 3-5 grams for a child. Currently, consumers can purchase powdered caffeine online for as little as $10 for 250 grams.

Symptoms of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death.

The petition includes statements from the parents of two young men who died earlier this year after ingesting caffeine powder. Katie and Dennis Stiner’s 18-year-old son, Logan, died in May a few days before he was supposed to graduate from high school in LaGrange, OH. James and Julie Sweatt of Gardendale, AL, lost their 24-year-old son, Wade, in July.

The Stiners and the Sweatts met with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Tuesday before visiting FDA officials at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to deliver a citizen petition urging the agency to ban the sale of powdered caffeine.

In October, Brown joined Stiner’s parents in calling on FDA to ban the sale of powdered caffeine, and both Brown and Blumenthal wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Oct. 23 urging a ban.

Over the summer, FDA issued a consumer advisory about the dangers of pure, powdered caffeine, but CSPI says it wants further action.

“Due to the acute threat to public health it poses, the FDA has the regulatory power and obligation to ban highly concentrated caffeine marketed as a dietary supplement and we urge the Agency to exercise that authority,” the petition states. “FDA has the opportunity to get in front of a problem that has the potential to grow exponentially, and to address its risks before they can be fully realized.”

© Food Safety News
  • Kyyser

    While tragic, the young men referred to were adults old enough to vote, drive a car, or join the military. Suppressing free trade in a sentimental attempt to protect people from consequences wrought by their own lack of self-preservation is foolish and wrong.