Pure powdered caffeine is an unregulated and dangerous substance that can easily be obtained by nearly anyone. In May of this year, just a few days before his high school graduation, a young man in Ohio died suddenly as a result of a caffeine overdose. It was determined that he had 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his body whereas the average coffee drinker has only 3 to 5. His mother later discovered a bag of powder in his room and was told it was caffeine powder, a legal substance.
Despite its clear danger, caffeine powder is currently unregulated. Since caffeine powder is considered a dietary supplement it is not regulated by the FDA. While caffeine added to a soda is monitored and capped at 200 milligrams per serving, powdered caffeine goes unchecked. The standard “serving size” on packages of caffeine powder list a serving as a mere 1/16th of a teaspoon, or 200 milligrams. Most individuals lack the type of precise measuring tools it would take to properly measure out that specific amount. The powder is so potent that even a small amount can cause an overdose. Just one teaspoon of the powder equals drinking 25 cups of coffee and is considered a lethal dose.
Caffeine is generally seen as an innocuous substance. It is regularly added to drinks and snacks, and for many has become a welcome part of their morning ritual. However, despite its appeal as a pick me up, a weight loss aid, or an energy booster, caffeine is still a stimulant and overuse can be dangerous.
Jim O’Hara, health promotion policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest feels that caffeine is being overused in foods. In an interview with Yahoo Health he recently stated, “Caffeine is being introduced in an indiscriminate fashion and is causing the potential for serious health risks, especially for young people.”
Jennifer Doran, a spokesperson for the FDA warns parents that young people especially may be attracted to caffeine powder. With the popularity of energy drinks and other caffeine-laden substances most teenagers and young adults are unaware that caffeine is actually dangerous in relatively small amounts. And caffeine powder is so highly concentrated that it takes only a small amount to be deadly. There are roughly 74 milligrams of caffeine in one teaspoon of instant coffee; however, a teaspoon of caffeine powder contains over 3,000 milligrams.
Caffeine powder is a dangerous, unregulated, and misunderstood substance. And while caffeine is generally considered harmless by most people who regularly consume coffee or soda, powdered caffeine is a highly hazardous concentrated stimulant that should not be consumed.