Most of us drink some type of caffeine on a daily basis, whether it’s coffee, tea or an oversized energy drink that has enough sugar in it to keep a grown man bouncing off the walls for hours. However, as basic as your morning cup of joe may seem to you, caffeine is still a drug at its core, and can be lethal when too much is consumed.
Sadly, this was the case in 2016 when two healthy men ages 18 and 24 died from concentrated caffeine overdoses, and their parents have been fighting to warn the public about the dangers of the stimulant ever since.
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Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is speaking out, issuing a ban on liquids and powders containing pure or highly concentrated caffeine, which are often sold online and housed in “bulk packages” such as large tubs or gallons. According to the FDA, one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine equates to 20–28 cups of coffee, which is a potentially deadly dosage.
Because the exact amounts of liquid and powder formulations can be tough to measure, risk of overuse and misuse increases considerably. “Often, consumers do not have the right tools to correctly measure such a small amount. Even if they do, simple and common errors, such as packing the powder too tightly or using a ‘heaping scoop’ instead of a ‘level scoop,’ can increase the amount of caffeine in a single dose, with harmful results. Consumers could also make similar errors with highly concentrated liquid caffeine products. For comparison, a can of caffeinated soda contains about 35 mg of caffeine, which would equate to less than half a teaspoon of highly concentrated liquid caffeine,” writes the FDA in a statement.
Although this ban doesn’t apply to your everyday cup of coffee or tea (or even those intimidatingly caffeine-rich energy drinks), it’s good to be aware of this issue because these super concentrated forms of the ingredient are becoming more popular, and the risks are no joke.
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