FDA cracks down on powdered caffeine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on companies that sell powered caffeine in bulk.

The agency sent letters to five distributors on Tuesday — SPN LLC, Purebulk Inc., Natural Food Supplements, Hard Eight Nutrition LLC and Bridge City Bulk — to warn the companies that their product labels are violating food safety laws and could result in consumers taking deadly doses of powdered protein.

FDA said the labels require consumers to separate out a safe serving from this potentially lethal amount and incorrectly implies that this process can be done with a quarter teaspoon.

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“The difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure powdered products is very small,” FDA said in a news release. “Furthermore, safe quantities of these products can be nearly impossible to measure accurately with common kitchen measuring tools.”

A teaspoon, the agency said, is not a measuring device precise enough to calculate how many milligrams of caffeine are in a serving size of the product.

FDA first alerted consumers to the dangers of powdered caffeine in 2014 following the deaths of two healthy teenagers.

A single teaspoon of powdered caffeine, which is the equivalent of 28 cups of coffee, can cause nausea, vomiting, anxiety and heart palpitations, while three teaspoons can cause chest pain, irregular heartbeat and in some cases, death.

The companies have 15 days to respond to the FDA.