• FDA Issues Second Warning About Powdered Caffeine
  • March 12, 2015 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a second warning over the use of powdered caffeine. The move comes after two reported deaths in 2014 were linked directly with the product.

    What is powdered caffeine?

    Powdered caffeine is 100 percent caffeine, often sold in bulk packages in a powdered form. While it is advertised as a healthier way to ingest caffeine as opposed to drinking coffees or sodas, its extremely high potency makes it dangerous for consumption. The FDA noted just a single teaspoon of powdered caffeine is about the same as 25 cups of coffee.

    This can lead to an erratic or incredibly rapid heartbeat, seizures and even death. The FDA also noted symptoms are severe and affect people differently than consuming too much caffeine in a drink, such as coffee. Additional side effects related to powdered caffeine are vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and disorientation.

    Two deaths reported

    NPR reported the instances of death involving powdered caffeine happened almost immediately after consumption. For instance, Matt Sweatt was 24 when he passed away from consuming just a small amount in his water one morning in June. It was the first time he ever tried the ingredient in this powdered form. His father, James Sweatt, said within minutes of consuming the substance, his heart began beating out of control. A few minutes later his heart stopped.

    This death was the second reported in 2014, following that of Logan Stiner in May. Stiner was 18 and took the product in attempt to improve his workout. Unfortunately, his heart also failed shortly after consumption.

    FDA has little control
    Because powdered caffeine is branded and marketed as a supplement, rather than a food, there is little power the FDA has in limiting use or banning it altogether, an action many parents and health advocates are now calling for. The FDA regulates caffeine limits in foods and drinks, but when it comes to supplements, the FDA does not hold approval jurisdiction. According to U.S. News and World Report, the agency would have to take steps through the Justice Department to have the product regulated.

    "The FDA is extremely concerned about this pure form of caffeine and are actively accessing whether we can pursue enforcement action as an unapproved drug or some other avenue to get powdered pure caffeine products off the market," Jennifer Dooren, spokesperson for the FDA, told U.S. News and World Report. "The FDA is actively considering every legal option in determining the best path forward."

    Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer rights advocacy group, warned that powdered caffeine is a stimulant for the brain, but doesn't actually provide additional energy. She noted this product has no business being on the market.

    "It doesn't need to be sold in this form," MacCleery said, reported NPR. "It shouldn't be legal under the law. It's the most dangerous dietary supplement that's on the market today."