“As long as this dangerous substance remains legal and readily available online and in retail stores, consumers will be exposed to its unreasonable risks,” Sen. Brown said. “Powdered caffeine sold in bulk is markedly different than energy drinks, energy shots or other retail products such as pills that contain caffeine. Because of the risk powdered caffeine poses to consumers, these products merit swift and significant action by FDA.”
According to the agency, a single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee—more than six times the recommended daily amount for an adult. Although the FDA has alerted consumers to the dangers of powdered caffeine on its website, these products remain on the shelves and available online.
Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), commended on the senators’ efforts, saying, “Under the law, FDA can remove this product from the marketplace and we think it should do just that. There is no reason why consumers would need—or should use—pure powdered caffeine.
“There are safe and beneficial caffeine-containing dietary supplements on the market for consumers,” he added. “As the Senators pointed out in their letter, ‘Powdered caffeine sold in bulk is markedly different than energy drinks, energy shots, or other retail products such as pills that contain caffeine.’ In fact, in 2013, CRN issued guidelines for the industry for caffeine-containing products to help ensure appropriate amounts are used in legitimate products and so consumers can better understand how much caffeine they are getting.”
Ingredient suppliers have legitimate reasons to sell pure powdered caffeine to manufacturers of finished products, which understand how to properly mix and dilute the ingredient into products that are safe for consumers and contain the appropriate amounts of caffeine, Mr. Mister said. “Consumers have no reason to purchase pure caffeine and would be unable to properly measure it into doses containing safe levels of caffeine. Direct-to-consumer sales of pure caffeine presents an unreasonable risk to public health.”
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently issued a scientific opinion that single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg and daily intakes of up to 400 mg do not raise safety concerns for adults. EFSA is now seeking comments and feedback on the draft provisional findings through a public consultation, which is open until March 15.