NPA’s Fabricant on caffeine: 'We don’t want to get into a position where Senators are using a court of public opinion to regulate the industry'

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

NPA’s Fabricant on caffeine: 'We don’t want to get into a position where Senators are using a court of public opinion to regulate the industry'

Related tags: Coffee, Caffeine

Science and an evaluation of risk must inform any regulatory decision on powdered pure caffeine products and not Senators usurping the law, says the Natural Products Association’s Dr Daniel Fabricant.

As reported yesterday by NutraIngredients-USA​, a group of six Democratic senators have voiced their support for a December 9, 2014 petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) calling for the ban of pure, powdered caffeine that is packaged and sold as a dietary supplement. Because of the product’s extreme potency, the possibility of accidental overdose poses a clear and present public health risk, asserts the CSPI, and two deaths have been linked to the product.

While the announcement received support from many in the industry, Dr Fabricant, CEO of the NPA, offered a different take on the issue.

“What happened with powdered pure caffeine is a tragedy and it gets people talking about public health, but what we have here is people not following the label instructions and over-taking the product,”​ he told NutraIngredients-USA. If​ FDA finds a problem with the product, then we’re supportive. We don’t know why people would want to take this product, but you have to understand that it’s still a legal product.

“Caffeine is used safely every day. Is it a problem with how the product was used or is it a problem with the product?”

Over-dosing

An 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee can contain from 80 mg up to 200 mg of caffeine. The generally recognized safe limit for caffeine consumption is set at 400 mg/day for a typical adult.

Powdered Pure Caffeine
From http://www.bulksupplements.com/caffeine-powder-anhydrous.html (accessed Jan 28, 2015)

A powdered pure caffeine product from BulkSupplements.com​ lists the serving size as 200 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to 1/16 of a teaspoon. “DO NOT use more than 200 mg in a single serving, or more than 600 mg in a day,”​ states the product webpage (see image on the right).

According to FDA, a single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee - more than six times the recommended daily amount of the stimulant for an adult.

“If FDA finds an unreasonable risk then by all means go after them, but we don’t want to get into a position where Senators are using a court of public opinion to regulate the industry. Make a decision based on the science,”​ said Dr Fabricant.

“We want people to keep that in mind,” ​he cautioned. “The reaction to the tragedy takes us into dangerous territory. It sets precedents: If Congress can usurp the law once then why not again?

"This seems to unfortunately be a case of consumers looking for an edge, but they didn't look at the labeling and they didn't talk to their healthcare practitioner."

“I get the fact that it’s a bad product for the industry and it is, but what’s the real issue here? It makes for a messy situation.”

Related topics: Regulation

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