FDA tries to Regulate Bulk Caffeine Sales; Reports of Seizures, Death

Health & Fitness
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Caffeine - It's what millions feel they need to jump start their day and keep it going, when it lags.

But now the Food and Drug Administration is working to stop bulk marketers of one concentrated version of the chemical.

Though the caffeine in your daily cup of joe is related to what's now being powdered and sold in bulk online, experts say it is a distant cousin to the substance with frankenstein-like qualities that can quickly prove fatal.

"With something that's very concentrated, it can be absorbed very rapidly and get to that toxic range fast," Steve Offerman, a medical toxicologist with Kaiser Permanente said.

Because of the potential danger, FOX40 actually started investigating the ease of buying caffeine powder months ago.

We we able to get a packet online for $25 dollars - no questions asked.

The only real warning on the package is 'keep out of the reach of children.'

What it doesn't say, is that just one teaspoon can kill - delivering the amount of caffeine found in 40-50 cups of coffee.

"As you become more poisoned you could get tachycardic. That's a word for racing hearts and you could have low blood pressure, and then probably, most dangerously, would be seizures. The seizures with caffeine would be  intractable. Meaning that they're hard to treat and hard to stop," Offerman said.

"He did not take it as an athletic supplement. He had been wrestling for three months and he was ready to start his adventures in life.  He did it because he could, and because he had a busy week and he thought that it was safe," Katie Stiner of LaGrange, Ohio recently said.

Earlier this month in Washington, Stiner offered those words as she and her family lobbied for more oversight of caffeine powder after learning in the worst way possible that it wasn't safe.

Her 18-year-old son Logan, a high school senior about to graduate, died after taking it May 27,  when he came home for lunch.

The Stiners hope the latest moves by the FDA will eventually keep other families from feeling their pain.

And even with this toxin now in the crosshairs of federal regulators, local toxicologists warn of an additional threat.

"Whenever you buy something off the internet, it's unregulated. You don't know exactly what you're buying. The dose on the package may not be exactly what it says," Offerman said.

If you are lucky enough to survive a caffeine overdose, you may do so with no lasting effects or you may suffer brain damage due to the lack of oxygen that can occur during seizures.


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