Death by Caffeine Powder

Pure caffeine in powder form: It’s everywhere, and especially prevalent and easy to purchase online. In stores, you can find it alongside vitamins and fitness drinks. And it’s not FDA-regulated. And there are no age restrictions. Most attractive, it’s dirt cheap, about $10 for 100 grams, way cheaper than the FDA-regulated products that use caffeine, making it immensely popular.

Caffeine Powder Effects

It can be sprinkled on food or mixed with any drink. And one minuscule measuring mistake, and it can kill you.

People tend to think it’s harmless because they’re so familiar with it. I mean, we get caffeine in our favorite beverages like our morning coffee, sodas, warm drinks like tea and hot chocolate, and also in many common foods. It’s a pick-me-up. It quick-starts our day and lifts us out of those afternoon doldrums.

But a mere tablespoon of the trendy powder is a lethal dose for an adult. It’s the equivalent of drinking over six gallons of coffee. You will likely fall into a comma or seizure before you certainly die of cardiac arrest brought on by the adrenaline caffeine releases. A typical 100-gram package of caffeine powder purchased online is the equivalent of over 1200 Energy Drinks or 300 cans of soda. It is so lethal and so easy to overdose on that the FDA advised consumers about a year ago to avoid it altogether.

All experts warn that it is nearly impossible to measure out a safe dose of caffeine powder with common kitchen measuring spoons because the difference between safe and lethal is measured in milligrams. 1/32 to 1/16 of a teaspoon is considered a normal, safe serving of caffeine powder. But most people don’t have a spoon that measures less than 1/8 of a teaspoon, so they do what they would do if they were following a recipe: they eyeball a quarter or a half of 1/8, which is fine if you’re measuring curry or salt, but it is a completely inaccurate and unsafe way to measure caffeine powder. Experts say to measure a safe dose of caffeine powder, a micro scale, which is laboratory-grade measuring equipment, is required.

Additionally, instructions on the packaging are often very unclear, misleading people to believe a “serving size” is 1/4 teaspoon, four times the safe limit.

 Caffeine Powder Overdose

Overdosing on caffeine powder has caused several deaths, most notably the 18-year-old Ohio teen Logan Stiner who died last year just before his high-school graduation. He had 23 times more caffeine in his system than is contained in a typical cup of coffee. He took the substance to boost his energy as he completed his final projects before graduating. He died from cardiac arrhythmia and seizure.

A month later, a 24-year old Georgia man, who had just graduated from college and gotten married, died from a caffeine powder overdose. He bought it because he believed mixing the powder with water was a healthy alternative to the salt and sugar in soft drinks. He even downloaded a dosing chart to make sure he measured correctly.

People most at risk are students staying up late to study, athletes looking to improve their performance, and people trying to lose weight.

State legislators in Ohio, at the urging of Logan Stiner’s parents, have voted to ban the sale of both caffeine powder and alcohol powder. Suffolk County in New York has banned the sale of caffeine powder to minors.

In response to the two deaths, the FDA sent warning letters to several distributors telling them that caffeine powder puts consumers at risk. The distributors have 15 days to respond to the FDA. One distributor has already announced its intentions to discontinue the product. In its blogs, the FDA writes potent warnings to consumers to stay away from the product altogether. The FDA has not yet made the sale of caffeine powder illegal.

Symptoms of caffeine overdose:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Erratic or uneven heartbeat
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Stupor
  • Tremors
  • Seizure

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Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment