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Is an FDA Caffeine Crackdown in the Works?

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is uncovering details regarding the latest trend in dietary supplements: powdered caffeine. News of the May 27 death of an Ohio teen due to a lethal dose of the substance has the organization on watch.According to the Associated Press, “The FDA said it is investigating caffeine powder and will “consider taking regulatory action.” In the meantime, the agency said it is recommending consumers stay away from it.”

The currently unregulated packaging on these products, as well as many other vitamins and supplements, makes it difficult for consumers to judge adequate dosing. In the case of the Ohio teen, Logan Stiner, all it took was a teaspoon of caffeine’s purest and deadliest form: caffeine anhydrous.

Reuters states, “[Stiner’s coroner] said he believed caffeine overdoses might be more common than people think and most coroners would not think to test for caffeine levels.”

The supplement is largely sold on the Internet by independent vendors. It can also be found on popular sites such as Amazon and Alibaba.

Fifteen million pounds of the little known powdered form pumps through consumers each year in the form of energy drinks and pills as the caffeine levels in everyday products continue to skyrocket.

In the recent past, other deaths have been associated with products that contain high levels of caffeine, including the 13 deaths linked to the popular supplement 5-Hour Energy, according to Wired Magazine.

The Washington Post notes, “FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg recently said that the agency needs to better understand the role of the stimulant, especially on children. The agency is investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death. FDA is also looking at caffeine in food as manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years.”

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