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FDA Asked to Regulate Powdered Caffeine

Illness and Death Tied to Use of Powdered Caffeine

Officials in Ohio have joined the call for the FDA to address the accessibility of powdered caffeine products. The substance was linked to the death of a high school wrestler and prom king in Ohio.

According to the director of a poison control center in LaGrange, Ohio, the student had consumed about a teaspoon of powdered caffeine immediately before his death last May—the equivalent of dozens of cans of caffeinated soft drinks. The coroner conducted a blood test and said that the student’s caffeine level was the highest he had ever seen.

Powdered caffeine is not typically available at retail establishments, but is easy to find online, say public health officials. They note that there are currently no legal regulations governing the product. They also warn that the powder is typically so concentrated that the typical dosage is 1/16th of a teaspoon. Because those types of measuring spoons are not readily available, the likelihood of overdose is significant. The FDA, which issued a warning in July, 2014, contends that a teaspoon of powdered caffeine is the equivalent of approximately 25 cups of coffee.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, has asked the FDA to ban the substance. Calling it a product “with no redeeming value that pose[s] a threat,” he pointed to the student death in Ohio, and warned that high school and college students across the country have easy access to the product.

FDA officials say they are in the information-gathering stage.

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