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After investigating the recent death of an Ohio teen, the FDA is calling for tougher regulation of caffeine powder and larger warning labels on the packaging.  An autopsy revealed that the teen had a lethal amount of caffeine in his system when he died on May 27. The coroner said the teen had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system, as much as 23 times the amount of a typical coffee or soda drinker.

Caffeine powder is simply that – caffeine in powder form.  It is most commonly used to increase mental alertness and counteract fatigue, increase energy level, and improve concentration. Recently, caffeine powder has become the new go-to stimulant for many young people interested in losing weight, controlling weight gain, improving sports performance, or getting the best out of a general workout.  It’s also popular among college students as a way to help stay alert during late-night study sessions; party-goers take it to combat the depressant effects of alcohol or marijuana.

What most don’t realize is that the difference between this powder substance and your morning cup o’ joe can be deadly.  Caffeine powder is so concentrated that ingesting a little too much is not the same as too many cups of coffee.  One serving of the powdered form is about 1/16 of a teaspoon (about 250 milligrams of caffeine), which is roughly the same as a small cup of coffee. To put that in perspective, a single teaspoon contains roughly the same amount of caffeine in 25 cups of coffee and mixing two regular spoonfuls of the caffeine powder into a drink is the same as drinking 70 Red Bulls. The problem is that it is almost impossible for users to accurately measure the powder with kitchen tools; they can easily take a lethal amount.

Caffeine powder is meant more for commercial use in a number of popular food and drinks, including coffee, tea, soda and chocolates. It can also be found in a number of other commercially-prepared products like drugs and medicines.  Because it is sold as a dietary supplement, caffeine powder not subject to the same regulations as caffeinated foods.  The scary fact is how easy it is for the general public to acquire; look no further than the Internet.  Not only is caffeine powder easy to obtain, but it is cheap to order; you can buy 100,000 milligrams of caffeine powder online for about $10.

The Food and Drug Administration strongly advises consumers to avoid the pure caffeine powder and encourages parents to talk to their children about its potential dangers.  The agency is seeking more complete information concerning this substance before taking official action.  If you believe someone is having a caffeine overdose, seek immediate medical attention.  Symptoms include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation, insomnia, abdominal cramping, and cardiac arrest.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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