Health Commissioner warns to stay away from powdered caffeine

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- 54 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee every day.

But what about 28 cups? That’s how much caffeine is in just one teaspoon of powered caffeine, which is sold primarily online as a dietary supplement.

“Caffeine is a stimulant, so taken in very high doses just like any stimulant, just like cocaine, it can cause some severe side effects in your body,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner.

Dr. Burstein said the drug, which is often used as a workout booster, can cause heart palpitations and seizures if taken in excess.

Last year, the powder led to the death of two young men in Ohio and Georgia. That’s what sparked the FDA to ask five companies that sell the product, to stop.

While the labels on the products recommend 50 to 200 milligrams, the FDA argues consumers don’t follow that scale.

In a statement to Kreativ Health, the FDA said:“The directions on your product’s label state, “As a dietary supplement, take 50 to 200 mg up to three times daily. Use a milligram scale for accurate measurement.”  Depending on the density of the powder, we estimate that a serving of 200 milligrams would be approximately 1/14th of a teaspoon. These amounts cannot be accurately measured using common household measuring tools. Many consumers do not have a scale that is sufficiently precise to accurately measure such a small amount.” 

Kreativ has since promised to take its powder off the market. The other companies haven’t responded to the FDA yet.

“People who consume multiple cups of coffee usually do it over the course of a day, not in one dose,” Dr. Burstein pointed out.

She said some have built up a tolerance to multiple cups of coffee, but younger people trying powdered caffeine for the first time put themselves at serious risk. And mixing that with an intense workout is a recipe for a serious health concern, she said.

There haven’t been any issues with the product in Erie County yet.

News 4 spoke to a local fitness expert, who said any safe workout boosting supplement should not exceed two cups of coffee in its caffeine content.

Because caffeine powder is marketed at a dietary supplement, it’s not regulated in the same way caffeine in soda is.

The companies have 15 days to respond to the FDA’s letters of concern.

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