If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



U.S. senators push for ban on caffeine powder

FDA efforts to regulate pure substance fail to protect consumers, lawmakers say

by Britt E. Erickson
April 29, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 18

Credit: CSPI
U.S. lawmakers want FDA to halt sales of bulk caffeine powder.
Product photo of a bag and plastic jug of powdered caffeine.
Credit: CSPI
U.S. lawmakers want FDA to halt sales of bulk caffeine powder.

Five U.S. senators are urging FDA to ban retail sales and marketing of bulk powdered caffeine after the 2014 deaths of two men who consumed too much of the substance.

Last week, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and families of the men who overdosed to raise awareness about the dangers of pure caffeine.

The deaths of the men, aged 18 and 24, prompted FDA to send warning letters last year to five distributors of powdered caffeine, claiming that the dietary supplements present “a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.” Those companies are no longer marketing the substance directly to consumers, but at least 19 others are, CSPI says.

“It is disturbing that despite two unintended and untimely deaths associated with powdered caffeine, the FDA has done little to regulate these products or adequately enforce the standards in place to protect Americans from the substantial risk associated with ingesting powdered caffeine in any form,” the senators write in an April 26 letter to FDA. “Unfortunately, in the absence of strong regulatory action, companies are continuing to develop new delivery mechanisms and creative advertising ploys to attract new powdered caffeine users.”


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.