CLEVELAND, OH – Following the death of a Lorain County high school student, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale of powdered caffeine. During a visit to the Cleveland YMCA, Brown was joined by the parents of Logan Stiner, a senior at Keystone High School in LaGrange, who died just three days before his high school graduation because of ingesting too much powdered caffeine.
“Even the smallest amount of powdered caffeine can be deadly,” Brown said. “We have banned dangerous and deadly alcoholic caffeinated drinks – and now it’s time to do the same with powdered caffeine. While it’s too late to save the Stiner’s son, we must take action before more lives are lost.”
“If powdered caffeine can kill someone like Logan, it knows no borders,” the Stiners said. “Caffeine powder should not be available. That’s why we decided that we must do everything we can to get this product off the market and away from consumers. We are very thankful for all of Senator Brown’s assistance in our battle to have the FDA ban caffeine powder and look forward to meeting with Senator Brown, Senator Blumenthal and FDA officials in Washington this December as we continue our fight to have this lethal substance removed from the market.”
“This form and dosage is highly dangerous,” Henry Spiller, director of the Poison Control Center in Columbus who joined Brown at the press conference today, said. “It's like going to buy firecrackers and someone handing you a stick of dynamite. This is frighteningly dangerous. You can't have 16- and 17-year-olds buying something off the Internet and playing with dynamite."
According to the FDA, a single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee. Although the FDA alerted consumers to the dangers of powdered caffeine on its website following Stiner’s death, these products remain on the shelves and are available online without any sort of regulation, warnings, or protections.
Full text of the letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is below.
The Honorable Margaret Hamburg
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Dear Commissioner Hamburg:
We are concerned about the continued retail marketing and sale of powdered caffeine. While we appreciate the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) issuance of consumer advice on the dangers of powdered pure caffeine – going so far as to recommend that that consumers avoid these products – the agency must do more to protect American consumers. We urge the FDA to ban the retail sale and marketing of this deadly product.
On May 27, 2014, 18-year old Logan Stiner, died from ingesting too much powdered caffeine. Logan, a senior at Keystone High School in LaGrange, Ohio, was a gifted athlete and a strong student – he had even been named prom king. But because of powdered caffeine, Logan died just three days before his high school graduation. This fall, Logan would have been a freshman at the University of Toledo.
Following Logan’s death, the FDA updated its “Safety Alert and Advisories” page to warn consumers about the dangers of powdered pure caffeine. In its consumer advice, the FDA acknowledges the significant health risks associated with powdered caffeine: “Pure caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts may cause accidental overdose … Symptoms of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. [Emphasis added.] Vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation are also symptoms of caffeine toxicity.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “…dietary intake [of caffeine] should be discouraged for all children.”
Yet, these dangerous products remain on the shelves without any sort of regulation, and students, like Logan, continue to purchase them in bulk without any warnings or protections to keep them safe. Given that very small amounts of powdered caffeine can cause severe adverse events including death, it is time for the FDA to use its authority to ban the sale and marketing of this dangerous product. When a “single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee,” Americans deserve clarity on the dangers of powdered caffeine, which is still being sold at stores and on the internet, as well as better oversight of this potentially fatal product.
We look forward to working with you to ensure that a ban on the retail sale and marketing of this deadly product is put in place to protect Americans from this dangerous form of caffeine. Thank you in advance for your continued help in protecting the public health of our country.
United States Senator