Powdered Caffeine Is Lethal, Says FDA (And It's Probably About Time)
Many of us may joke about being caffeine addicts, but you really can't say you need the stuff 'till you're ordering — and eating — it in powdered form. And while it may look tempting (it can be added to anything! It's not a liquid and so can go through airport security!), the FDA has warned that powdered caffeine can be lethal and shouldn't be consumed. Sorry, coffeeonados, you'll just have to stick to your triple-shot espresso, for now. (Trust me, I feel your pain.)
Haven't heard of powdered caffeine? Well, clearly, you haven't been in the bean scene long. Powdered coffee is the hard stuff: a pure, white powder that you can buy for $14.99 off Amazon. Unlike the similar-sounding Palcohol, powdered caffeine is marketed as a dietary supplement and so is entirely unregulated. It's also literally one hundred percent caffeine — just one teaspoon is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee. (Yah. Teaspoon.) CaffeinAll, for example, which boasts that "it's odourless, non-bitter and economical" says that "just three sprinkles have more caffeine than a Red Bull," according to the Sydney Morning Herald. If you've ever had a six-cups-of-coffee day, you can imagine: this stuff is dangerous.
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning, noting the death of an 18-year-old who overdosed on pure caffeine back in May. “Pure caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts may cause accidental overdose. Parents should be aware that these products may be attractive to young people,” the agency warns.
Some symptoms may sound familiar from your regular coffee overdose: a fast and erratic heartbeat, disorientation. Others may not: diarrhea,vomiting, stupor, seizures and death. The real danger lies in the fact that it's hard to tell how much is alright to ingest. "The difference between a safe amount and a lethal dose of caffeine in these powdered products is very small," FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Dooren told NBC News.
Ok, admittedly, it's not super common to get a serious caffeine overdose. The Associated Press reports that from 2008 to 2012, there have been 40 life-threatening cases of caffeine overdose and only two deaths in the U.S.But what with teenagers supposedly smoking coffee these days, coffee prices feeling exorbitant, it's probably good that the FDA now has a serious warning — just to remind us all that yah, ingesting 25 cups of coffee in one sitting probably isn't the best idea.