Caffeine occurs naturally in over 60 plants, like tea, coffee beans, and cacao. However, Pharmaceutical grade powdered caffeine has hit the streets in the US, and is extremely dangerous. This powder is 100% pure, and the FDA is warning consumers to avoid these products. For about $10, people can purchase 100,000 milligrams (100 grams) of pure caffeine powder online. This equals the caffeine found in 1,000 cans of Red Bull in one packet. It is marketed online to help you wake up and boost your energy. It is being glamorized to youth on YouTube as many videos promoting its benefits are available for viewing.
Pure caffeine is a very strong stimulant and small amounts can quickly cause an overdose. A serving size is listed as 1/16 of a teaspoon = 200mg of caffeine and ¼ teaspoon = 756mg of caffeine. One teaspoon can be over 3,200mg of caffeine. In comparison, one Grande Starbucks coffee has about 330 mg of caffeine, and sodas have 45 to 50 mg per 12 ounces. It is very hard to accurately measure pure powdered caffeine with common kitchen utensils so users can easily consume lethal amounts. Symptoms of caffeine toxicity can include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, stupor, disorientation, seizures, and death. The symptoms of caffeine overdose are much more severe than symptoms from drinking too much coffee, tea or soda. Multiple deaths have occurred, as well as an increase in ER visits across the nation.
Caffeine powder is being marketed as a dietary supplement and is unregulated, unlike the caffeine added to soda is. The FDA makes sure the claims on the label are factual, but “dietary supplements” do not need approval from the FDA to be sold to the public. The FDA doesn’t have the legal authority to remove such substances off the shelves; so the agency is building a legal case against companies who are marketing it in bulk in an attempt to persuade them to stop.