Following Senators’ Urging, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Announces Additional Action to Protect Consumers from the Dangers of Deadly Powdered Caffeine

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following calls from a group of United States Senators to ban the retail sale of powdered caffeine and require better product labels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued warning letters to five powdered caffeine distributors, requiring them to revise their labels to clarify serving sizes, potency, and risks associated with the use of powdered caffeine.


After a New York Times report detailed the prevalent use of caffeine inhalers to deliver powdered caffeine, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH),  Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in sending a letter in July urging the FDA to ban the sale and marketing of powdered caffeine for retail use.


“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 the FDA heed our call to action by taking concrete steps to help prevent the potentially deadly consequences of this drug.”


According to the FDA, a single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 28 cups of coffee. Pure caffeine overdoses have been responsible for more than 200 hospital admissions in Ohio, including five life-threatening cases in 2014. The latest pure caffeine product to be marketed in the U.S. is an inhaler-like product, which the FDA has not reviewed for safety.


Although the FDA has alerted consumers to the dangers of powdered caffeine on its website, these products remain on the shelves and available online without any sort of regulation, warnings, or protections.


“Even a small amount of powdered caffeine can injure and even kill those who accidently ingest too much. But too many who use it don’t know its risks,” said Brown. “Today’s action by the FDA will help protect consumers from this dangerous product. By requiring distributors of powdered caffeine to revise their labels and provide accurate and complete information to consumers, we can help save lives. While these warning letters are is a step in the right direction toward protecting consumers, I’ll continue my push to ban this product for retail sale.”


Blumenthal said, “I continue to urge FDA to move forward with a ban on its retail sale to once and for all stop this product from killing consumers. Powdered caffeine is a threat to public health – putting users in extreme peril – and we cannot afford to lose any more lives as the result of deceptive labeling and marketing of the dangerous product. I am glad the FDA heeded our call and has begun the process of protecting consumers against the significant risk posed by powdered caffeine.”


In January 2015, Durbin joined Brown, Blumenthal, Schumer, Markey, and Gillibrand in urging the FDA to immediately ban the retail sale and marketing of pure caffeine in support of a Citizen Petition delivered to then-FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.