In May, Dennis and Kate Stiner faced a tragedy that no parent should have to endure. Their son Logan – a student athlete at Keystone High School in LaGrange, who planned on attending the University of Toledo this fall – died from ingesting too much powdered caffeine three days before his high school graduation. Since then, the Stiners have become courageous advocates for consumer safety so that no other parents will have to suffer the same senseless loss.
Last week, I joined the Stiners in Cleveland to call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale and marketing of powdered caffeine and prevent more accidental deaths. The FDA has alerted consumers to the dangers of powdered caffeine on its website but these products remain readily available without any sort of regulations, warnings, or protections. I believe the FDA must to do more to protect American consumers.
Caffeine is an accepted part of our culture – you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea, or a can of soda or an energy drink to concentrate or gain energy. Powdered pure caffeine, however, is not well understood and its high concentration makes it dangerous.
Even a small amount of powdered caffeine can kill.
According to the FDA, one teaspoon of powered caffeine is like drinking 25 cups of coffee all at once. That is more than six times the recommended daily amount of caffeine for an adult. Teenagers – who may be tempted to use powdered caffeine to stay awake in class or to improve their sports performance – are recommended to have no more caffeine than what you would find in a single cup of coffee.
To complicate matters, the recommended serving size of powdered caffeine is one-sixteenth of a teaspoon. That amount is so small that it’s nearly impossible to estimate without a food scale and a special miniature measuring spoon. Most kitchens don’t have those tools, putting powdered caffeine users at risk for fatal measuring errors.
Too much caffeine can cause rapid or erratic heartbeat, seizures, and even death but, despite these risks, powdered caffeine can be purchased online or in stores with little warning or guidance. Kids and teenagers can even purchase this deadly stimulant in bulk online with the click of a button and no parental supervision.
We need to take action before more lives are lost. I’ll continue working with my colleagues in Washington to press the FDA to pull this product from the market.