Philadelphia PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) and Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Children and Families, called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider a ban on the sale of powdered caffeine that poses dangers to children across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Recent deaths in Ohio and Georgia have highlighted the dangers to children when 100% pure caffeine is ingested. According to the FDA, a single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee. Pure caffeine is currently being sold by certain retailers, and in bulk online. An FDA ban could protect children from these increasing dangers. Senator Casey released a new letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg making the case for action.
“It’s important for the FDA to consider a ban on the sale of pure powdered caffeine in order to protect children and families from this product,” Senator Casey said. “Ingesting such large quantities of pure caffeine can put children in danger of an immediate health emergency. The FDA has taken some steps to warn consumers about the dangers of powdered caffeine, but it’s time for more action.”
Powdered caffeine is extremely dangerous. The FDA has warned the public that a single teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is “roughly the equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee.” Even a small amount of powdered caffeine can cause an overdose. The product can easily be bought in bulk; a 250 gram bag contains caffeine equivalent to over 1,000 cups of coffee, and can cost as little as $10. The FDA says that “it is nearly impossible to accurately measure powdered pure caffeine with common kitchen measuring tools, and you can easily consume a lethal amount.” The products on the market are frequently poorly labeled and may not appropriately alert consumers to the lethal risks of overdosing on the product.
Dear Commissioner Hamburg:
I write today to request that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely evaluate the safety concerns that have been raised regarding the sale of 100 percent caffeine powder, which can be purchased online in bulk quantities.
In recent months, there have been troubling reports regarding the dangers of powdered caffeine, including the tragic deaths of two young men from caffeine overdoses. Further, I have heard, and I share, concerns that this product may easily fall into the hands of young children. As medical experts have estimated that even a quarter teaspoon of this product can pose a life-threatening health risk to an individual, there is evidence that powdered caffeine may pose a significant risk to the well-being of children and families.
In response to these safety concerns, I understand that FDA has issued two advisories against the use of powdered caffeine. Further, it appears that some retailers have voluntarily stopped selling this product in bulk. Given the seriousness of the claims made against this product, I urge FDA to consider stronger enforcement action, including the possibility of a ban, if manufacturers cannot demonstrate sufficient actions to prevent additional harm.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator