Food

FDA Warns Consumers About Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine

The FDA is warning consumers about dietary supplements consisting of pure or highly concentrated caffeine, and recommends avoiding these products. In particular, the FDA is concerned about pure and highly concentrated caffeine, in powdered and liquid forms, sold in bulk containers and marketed directly to consumers.

The FDA is aware of at least two deaths related to these products in otherwise healthy individuals.

Pure and highly concentrated caffeine is extremely potent. A single teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount of caffeine in 28 cups of coffee and a half cup of a typical liquid concentrated caffeine product contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as more than 20 cups of coffee. When sold in bulk packaging, it is up to a consumer to accurately measure out a single serving. In a container that holds hundreds or even thousands of servings, it is very difficult to tell the difference between what is a safe amount and what may be a toxic or even lethal amount of this bulk product. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts of pure or highly concentrated caffeine may have serious effects and could even be deadly.

These products often closely resemble safe household items. Highly concentrated caffeine in a clear liquid form could be easily confused with commonly available liquids, such as water or distilled vinegar, and pure powdered caffeine could be easily confused with flour or powdered sugar. The consequences of a consumer mistakenly confusing one of these products could be toxic or even lethal.
Symptoms of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. Vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation are also symptoms of caffeine toxicity. These symptoms are likely to be much more severe than those resulting from drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages.

Who should know

All consumers encountering pure or highly concentrated caffeinated products should be aware of the high potency of these products. Parents should be aware that teenagers and young adults may be drawn to these products for their perceived benefits and may not recognize their risks.

What to do

  • The FDA advises consumers to avoid pure and highly concentrated caffeine sold in bulk as powdered and liquid dietary supplements.
  • It can be extremely difficult to accurately measure pure and highly concentrated caffeine, and you can easily consume a dangerous or even lethal amount.
  • If you believe that you are having an adverse event related to caffeine, stop consuming it and seek immediate medical care or advice.

The FDA wants to know about adverse events associated with pure and highly concentrated caffeine in dietary supplements. You or your health care provider can help by reporting these adverse events to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal.

Why this advice is important

Dietary supplements consisting of pure or highly concentrated caffeine are potentially dangerous, and serious adverse events can result, including death.

Additional information

Page Last Updated: 04/13/2018
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