WASHINGTON--Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal is part of a nationwide effort to ban the sale of powdered caffeine. Just one teaspoon of the powder is equivalent to drinking 28 cups of coffee, and it can be extremely dangerous--in fact, many deaths have been connected to the substance, and can occur within just minutes of ingesting the caffeine.
"Pure caffeine is a killer. We know that not just from theory, but unfortunately from real life loss," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal appeared in Washington D.C. this week with senators from other states to petition the Food and Drug Administration to ban both the sale and marketing efforts of pure, powdered caffeine.
"Ban it everywhere that it can be sold, ban it to save lives. It's really that simple," he said.
Currently, you can purchase powdered caffeine or liquid caffeine online, and advocates say that is the major problem. The FDA did send letters to five companies last year instructing them to stop selling bulk powdered caffeine, a Google search reveals that other manufacturers have taken up the helm, and many are from overseas, meaning they are not regulated by the FDA's rules.
"It's astonishing a substance that is fatal in adults in the amount of two tablespoons, is sold cheaply over the internet as loose powder in large bags without clear warnings," said Laura Macleery, an advocate with the nonprofit and consumer advocacy group Centers for Science in the Public Interest, who has joined the petition against the FDA. "It is time for the FDA to protect consumers from this clear hazard."
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin were at the press conference with Blumenthal, and Sens. Edward Markey and Chuck Shumer are part of the effort as well.
At the press conference, the senators were joined by a couple who lost their teenage son just days before he was set to graduate from high school.
In 2014 Dennis and Kate Stiner, from Lagrane, Ohio, lost their son Logan, who was set to graduate fourth in his class just three days after his death, and was intending to study chemical engineering in college.
"It's not easy coming here sharing our stories and talking about our son," Dennis Stiner said. But it needed to be done. "I sure hope the FDA will really do the right thing this time around and take a serious hard look at why they need to ban this product."
You can read the full letter that the senators sent to the FDA here.