FDA Answers Durbin, Brown, Blumenthal Call to Ban Deadly Powdered Caffeine

Senators led effort to ban retail sale of bulk powdered caffeine since 2015

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will act to ban the retail sale of pure and highly concentrated bulk caffeine products in both powder and liquid forms.  In guidance issued earlier today, the FDA has clarified that dietary supplements containing pure or highly concentrated caffeine in powder or liquid forms are unlawful when sold in bulk quantities directly to consumers.  Given the fact that powdered caffeine even in small doses can be deadly, the FDA has announced that it will initiate steps to remove these dangerous products from the market right away.

“Pure powdered caffeine is dangerous. When sold in bulk, it is nearly impossible for consumers to tell the difference between a safe dose of pure powdered caffeine and a lethal one,” said Durbin. “I am glad to see that the FDA is heeding our call to action by taking concrete steps to ban highly concentrated and pure caffeine products and help prevent the potentially deadly consequences of this drug.”

“Nearly four years ago, Ohioan Logan Stiner unnecessarily lost his life to a dangerous and unregulated product. Today’s announcement out of the FDA will finally help ensure other Ohio families never have to suffer the same way the Stiners did. The FDA’s decision to ban the direct sale of pure, lethal powdered caffeine will finally bring about the consumer protections we have been demanding for years,” Brown said.

“The FDA has rightly heeded our call to take swift action to get highly concentrated bulk caffeine products off the market. Pure caffeine is simply unsafe and has long posed dangerous – even deadly – risks to unsuspecting consumers. Robust enforcement action will go a long way towards stopping senseless and tragic caffeine overdoses,” Blumenthal said.

Durbin, Brown, and Blumenthal led the charge to ban the sale of bulk powdered caffeine starting in 2015.  The Senators penned a letter to the FDA alongside Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urging the agency to ban the sale of this lethal substance back in 2015.

Durbin, Brown, and Blumenthal renewed their call in 2016 while standing with families whose loved ones had died after using powdered caffeine.  During their press conference, the Stiner family from Ohio and the Sweatt family from Alabama shared personal stories on the potentially deadly impacts of powdered caffeine.  Logan Stiner – who was a senior at Keystone High School in LaGrange, Ohio – died just three days before his high school graduation from ingesting too much powdered caffeine. Logan passed away on May 27, 2014.  Wade Sweatt died at the age of 24 after being in a coma caused by powdered pure caffeine. Wade passed away on June 24, 2014.

According to the FDA, a single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 28 cups of coffee.  Risk of overuse and misuse is high when highly concentrated caffeine is sold in bulk quantities, and therefore present a significant and unreasonable risk of illness or injury to the consumer.