The US Food and Drug Administration announced that concentrated, bulk caffeine products have no place on the market, and are declaring them illegal substances.
The FDA, stating that it would work to get the products off the shelves, said,
These products present a significant public health threat because of the high risk that they will be erroneously used at excessive, potentially dangerous doses.
The statement added, “Highly concentrated and pure caffeine, often sold in bulk packages, have been linked to at least two deaths in otherwise healthy individuals.”
The agency has been warning the public about the dangers of powdered caffeine since 2014, when a teenager in Ohio died after ingesting it, NBC News reports. The FDA has specifically asked retailers not to sell such products directly to consumers.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, said, “Despite multiple actions against these products in the past, we’ve seen a continued trend of products containing highly concentrated or pure caffeine being marketed directly to consumers as dietary supplements and sold in bulk quantities, with up to thousands of recommended servings per container.”
“We know these products are sometimes being used in potentially dangerous ways. For example, teenagers, for a perceived energy kick, sometimes mix dangerously high amounts of super-concentrated caffeine into workout cocktails,” he added.
Just one teaspoon of powdered caffeine can deliver the equivalent of 20 cups of coffee, the FDA said, which is enough to kill a person.
“Regardless of whether the product contains a warning label, such products present a significant and unreasonable risk of illness or injury to the consumer,” the FDA said.
The action to pull caffeine off shelves does not include energy drinks or energy products that have caffeine or supplements. The agency added, “Moreover, this guidance does not affect other types of products that might also contain caffeine, such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs or conventional foods, like traditionally caffeinated beverages.”