The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings to several pure powdered caffeine distributors, citing a “significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers.”
Caffeine power is marketed as a dietary supplement and is unregulated, so the FDA does not have the legal authority to pull the products off the shelves. Instead, they are issuing warning letters against those distributors who are marketing powered caffeine in bulk, in an attempt to persuade them to stop.
The warnings came in late August, following the overdose deaths of two young men last year. Eighteen-year-old Logan Stiner of Ohio died in May 2014 and Wade Sweatt, 24, of Georgia died in June 2014; both deaths were linked to the consumption of pure powdered caffeine.
Young adults and teenagers such as Stiner and Sweatt are drawn to powdered caffeine for a quick energy boost or to control weight gain; according to the FDA, however, a safe serving is difficult to measure since the difference between a safe serving and a hazardous serving is very small. For example, one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is equivalent to 28 cups of coffee, but a household teaspoon is not precise enough to calculate just how many milligrams are in the serving size. The FDA’s warning referenced packages of powdered caffeine containing hundreds or thousands of servings each, quantities that are potentially lethal to consumers.
The FDA sent warning letters to five distributors, who all offer pure powdered caffeine for sale online: Bridge City Bulk- Bridge City LLC; Hard Eight Nutrition LLC; PureBulk Incorporated; SPN LLC, doing business as Smartpowders; and Kreativ Health Incorporated, doing business as Natural Food Supplements. So far, the response is positive: the preside of Kreativ Health told The Associated Press that he would be taking its powdered caffeine off the market, and Bridge City said that their company immediately stopped selling the powder in response to the FDA’s letter.
The companies have 15 days to officially respond to the FDA.