A spoonful of pulverized caffeine is enough to kill someone–near instantaneously. How the deadly white powder slid past the FDA.”>
Wade Sweatt died from a white powder. Immediately after trying it, the 24 -year-old told his wife that it was making[ him] sick, his mothers recalled in a statement. Then, his heart stopped working.
What followed was several long terrible days, in which Wade had cardiac arrest over and over again, his mothers wrote. We eventually had to construct the terrible decision to take him off life subsistence, after it was clear that he was brain dead.
The white powder Sweatt ingested was not cocaine. It was the same substance found in a bar of chocolate or your morning coffee, only packaged in a more concentrated form: powdered caffeine.
According to the Food and Drug Administration( FDA ), ingesting a single teaspoon of powdered caffeine is approximately equivalent to drinking 28 beakers of coffee at once. In large sums, it can cause puking and diarrhea. Overdosing can result in a rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures, and death.
Even more frightening is how easy it is to take too much pure caffeine. One brand recommended that consumers use a 1/32 teaspoon to measure a safe sum. For comparison, a pinch of salt is generally considered to be one-sixteenth of a teaspoon.
According to ABC News, Sweatt had been searching the Internet for conversion tables shortly before his death in order to decide a safe amount. His calculation was fatal. Sweatt died in June of 2014. The month before, high school wrestler Logan Stiner also overdosed on the powder and passed away days before graduation.
Since their untimely deaths, the FDA has posted a consumer advisory about powdered caffeine and written six alerting letters to companies that sell it. But the federal agency has not yet banned the product. That seeming lag has prompted the Center for Science and the Public Interest( CSPI ), a nonprofit organization focused on nutrition and food security, to recommend the FDA to take swifter action.
It is astonishing that a substance that is fatal for adults in the amount of two tablespoons is sold inexpensively over the Internet as loose powder in big containers without clear warns, said CSPI Regulatory Affairs Director Laura MacCleery in a statement.
FDA officials met with the families of both Sweatt and Stiner in December of 2014 and again this Tuesday.
The FDA told The Daily Beast that it cannot discuss the pending CSPI petition to ban pulverized caffeine but a spokesperson said that the FDA takes concerns raised about safety of these types of products very seriously and we are considering the matters raised by the petition and devoting it our careful attention.
For the CSPI, the await has already been too long for comfort.
In her statement, MacCleery noted that after a quick Google search, the watchdog group was able to order a bottle of liquid caffeine from South Korea that was strong enough to kill virtually seven people.
We easily purchased large bags of pure powder sufficient to kill several dozen people, and a gallon jug of what looks like water but is actually a highly caffeinated liquida cup of which would be a fatal dose, she added.
As the National Institute for Drug Abuse notes, powdered caffeine is especially appealing to young people who want added caffeine stimulation and to those who believe the inconclusive evidence that caffeine can assist in weight loss. And before the high-profile deaths of Sweatt and Stiner, it was even easier to access than it is now.
The FDAs first action against the powdered caffeine marketplace came in July 2014 after the agency learned of Stiners fatal overdose. That misfortune prompted an official warning, which urged consumers to avoid the product and stressed that it is nearly impossible to accurately measure pure powdered caffeine with common kitchen quantify tools and you can easily ingest a lethal amount.