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The new rule doesn't apply to caffeinated foods or drinks.

Zee Krstic
April 16, 2018

It's probably a move that should have been made earlier, but the Food and Drug Administration is barring health supplement retailers from selling pure caffeine in bulk following two deaths related to the substance in 2014. The agency is targeting caffeine-packed liquids and powders sold in large quantities that often contain thousands of servings of the stimulant—not products that contain caffeine in high doses, such as coffee or energy drinks.

The FDA reports that pure powdered caffeine packs a whole lot more energy than a typical person would ever want: About one teaspoon of the substance is equal to 28 cups of regular coffee. When it comes to a safe amount of caffeine, the FDA recommends about 1/16th of a teaspoon of powder—an impossible amount to measure precisely, which makes it all the more problematic.

According to CNBC, the FDA started warning shoppers about these unadulterated caffeine products in 2014 after an 18-year-old died from a pure caffeine overdose. The national agency then issued warning letters to five different distributors, including brands one could find in many health supplement stores, like Purebulk and Kreativ Health's Natural Food Supplements.

Photo courtesy of PureBulk.

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While the new ban applies to unspecified amounts of pure or highly concentrated caffeine, manufacturers or producers who sell caffeine pills or pre-measured packets aren't being targeted. Some experts are calling for the FDA to take an even tougher stance against products that pack caffeine into their recipes.

The new rule has already gone into effect, so the FDA are well on their way to taking pure caffeine products that aren't carefully measured off of the market. This is the second time this year that the FDA has used their agency's power to remove a product from the market, after banning opioid-like kratom supplements from being sold in the United States in February.

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