mikroman6 / Getty
mikroman6 / Getty
Bodybuilders tell you all about the benefits of caffeine, whether it's in a cup of coffee or before exercise. But too much of it can be harmful. And as a sad Australian father emphasized in a now viral Facebook status, it can even be deadly.
Nigel Foote of Blackheath, New South Wales, demands that pure caffeine powder be banned in his country after his son's ban, Lachlan, died of caffeine poisoning when he apparently added too much substance to his protein shake. Although Lachlan died on New Year's Day 201
The family initially thought his protein powder was bad, Nigel said. The only other substance found in his system was alcohol (he had a BAC of 0.043).
According to his father, Lachlan made a protein shake after celebrating New Year's Eve and added too much pure caffeine powder to the drink – the amount is unknown. Nigel said his son bought the powder from a friend because his bank statements showed no mention of caffeine powder.
"Therefore, it seems that the pure caffeine powder was bought and shared by someone else, and it is therefore very likely that Lachlan never read the warning on the package and knew nothing about its effectiveness," Nigel wrote.
Although it has its place in the bodybuilding world, even small amounts of pure caffeine powder can be deadly. On its website, the Food and Drug Administration states that one teaspoon of it contains the same amount of caffeine as 28 cups of coffee – seven times the daily amount recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
The side effects of caffeine toxicity include rapid or dangerously irregular heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, cloudiness, disorientation, and especially death. According to the FDA, there were two deaths related to caffeine powder.
Lachlan complained about the taste of the shake, as evidenced by a text messaging shared by his father whose Facebook post you can see here:
It is not known why Lachlan made the powder used – whether for weight loss or to improve muscle contraction. Nigel demands that caffeine powder be banned by the New South Wales Food Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand. He says the product was banned in America, but that's not entirely true.
The FDA monitors the caffeine content of products and has in some cases violated manufacturers who add hazardous levels to their products.
In April 2018, the agency published a guide to companies that manufacture, market or distribute high-concentration caffeine, stating that bulk containers of caffeine powder could be dangerous because it is difficult (almost impossible) to measure the recommended portion ( 1/64 to 1/16 of a teaspoon) from such a large container.
In these cases, the FDA may consider a product to be illegal under the Federal Food Safety Act. However, such products could be acceptable if they were sufficiently diluted in water.