January 22, 2019

After Deaths, FDA Mulls Action on Powdered Caffeine

After two young men died from taking powdered pure caffeine, the U.S. Food ad Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer advisory and is now mulling further action, according to Michael Landa, Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

FDAEighteen-year-old, Logan James Stiner, a high school senior, athlete and prom king died days before his graduation in May after taking  powdered pure caffeine. James Wade Sweatt, 24, a newly married, recent graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham,  downloaded a conversion chart to try to calculate the proper dose but slipped into a coma after using powdered pure caffeine and later died.

Both young men purchased the caffeine online where it is marketed like an energy-boosting dietary supplement rather than a stimulant. A single teaspoon is roughly the equivalent to the amount of caffeine in 25 cups of coffee.

“Chemicals that are seemingly safe, like caffeine, take on a different character when they are sold in a pure form as a “dietary supplement,” said food safety attorney Ryan Osterholm.  “This form of caffeine is not usually seen in beverages.  Pure caffeine, if marketed as  a ‘dietary supplement,’ is not regulated as a drug by the FDA.  Thus, the manufacturer of this pure caffeine was not subject to FDA’s rigorous manufacturing and testing standards for drugs.  As we have called for in the past, the FDA must work to close this dangerous loophole.”

As the FDA considers next steps, it cautions everyone to be aware of the serious health risk associated with this product.


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