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Caffeine supplement considered “potentially dangerous”

The Food and Drug Administration is asking several supplement companies to review their powdered caffeine products. The agency says these products that are available to consumers online “present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”

Warning letters have been sent to five different companies including Bridge City Bulk, Hard Eight Nutrition, Kreativ Health, PureBulk and SmartPowders.

The letter states the powder caffeine is too difficult to measure out in a safe dosage.

For example, directions on Kreativ Health’s powdered caffeine states to take between 50 to 200 milligrams. The FDA says that would be equivalent to 1/14th of a teaspoon, which is too small to measure.

Doctor Scott Schultz at Providence Urgent Care in Columbia said a morning cup of coffee is a normal amount of caffeine for most people.

“Most people know ‘If I have this much caffeine, I’m not going to feel well’ or ‘If I don’t have this amount of caffeine, I’m not going to feel well,’ he said. “So most people know it’s an individual thing and you can recognize it, but when it gets into a pure concentrated form it can be really bad and really dangerous.”

According to the FDA, 3.5 ounces of the synthetic powdered caffeine is equal to 400 “tall” cups of Starbucks coffee and 1,250 cans of Red Bull. The agency said tablespoon can be deadly.

In 2013, 1,453 children under the age of 20 overdosed on caffeine, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In that same year, 943 people over the age of 20 overdosed as well. No deaths were reported in those cases.

Dr. Schultz said caffeine overdose doesn’t necessarily mean death. He said it’s common among college students around the time of final exams.

“You start talking to them and they took the energy drink, then they drank a cup of coffee, then the 5-Hour Energy and then a Monster,” he said. “You can overdose on caffeine just on over the counter stuff, it doesn’t even have to be the powder.”

Bridge City Bulk has already taken the powdered caffeine supplement off their website. The companies have 15 days to respond to the FDA.

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