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FDA Issues a Wake-Up Call About Powdered Caffeine Products

Posted on - Monday, March 21, 2016 under Dangerous Drugs & Products

Getting your daily jolt of caffeine from your cup (or five cups) of coffee is one thing. Getting it from pure powdered caffeine can be deadly.

Late in 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings to five distributors of powdered caffeine “because these products are dangerous and present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers.”

28 Cups of Coffee in One Teaspoon. 28 Cups.

The FDA took its recent action after the 2014 deaths of two otherwise-healthy teenagers who overdosed on just a small amount of powdered caffeine. As the FDA notes, one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in about 28 cups of regular coffee.

“The difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure powdered products is very small,” the FDA warns. Even small amounts can lead to an accidental overdose or caffeine toxicity. Imagine drinking almost 30 cups of coffee at once.

Signs of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures, and death, while symptoms of caffeine toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation. These serious and potentially deadly effects are more than just the jitters you get from having one too many cups of coffee over breakfast.

The FDA has advised consumers to avoid pure powdered caffeine altogether, noting how difficult it is to measure a safe amount and the small margin of error between safe and potentially deadly quantities.

Additionally, the FDA notes the appeal of powdered caffeine to teens (as with “energy drinks”) and advises that “parents should recognize that teenagers and young adults may be drawn to these products for their perceived benefits.” Parents should keep an eye on their teens and keep them away from powdered caffeine. Discuss the dangers with your teen as well. Maybe over a cup of coffee.

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