Florida residents are normally protected from dangerous consumable products by the Food and Drug Administration as it oversees foods, medicines and beverages. In recent years, energy drinks have drawn a great deal of attention due to negative effects occurring after their use, an issue that the FDA is responsible for addressing. Statistics indicate that approximately 21,000 people each year experience effects that are serious enough to require emergency room visits, and there are worries that powdered caffeine could lead to similar problems. In a recent death attributed to powdered caffeine, the decedent used the product to avoid consuming the sugar and calories associated with many energy drinks.
One of the problems for the FDA in addressing the powdered caffeine, which is predominantly sold online, is that it is labeled as a supplement. Because of this, the product can be sold without FDA approval. While energy drinks include warning labels due to FDA requirements, powdered caffeine lacks the oversight and regulation that could limit its sale. The product has become particularly attractive to young adults and teenagers for staying awake, losing weight and boosting workouts. However, the potency is a serious concern to FDA officials.
At least two known instances of death because of powdered caffeine have occurred, and in the same state as one of those deaths, at least 200 more individuals have been hospitalized for overdosing on caffeine. Defective products are typically banned from sale, but in the case of this potentially dangerous supplement, the FDA may have to seek changes through the judicial system before it can legally ban the sale of the substance.
A company selling a dangerous product or allowing a third party to sell a dangerous product through its website could face product liability issues, particularly if a negative outcome such as personal illness, injury or death occurs because of the product’s use. Such companies might choose to stop selling a product with such issues to avoid potential litigation.
Source: US News, “FDA Hands Tied in Powdered Caffeine Abuse Cases“, Kimberly Leonard, December 29, 2014