HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – The Food and Drug Administration has weighed in on Suffolk County’s 2014 law, the first in the nation to ban the sale of powdered caffeine to minors, by banning the sale of powdered caffeine sold in bulk.
Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and Legislator William R. Spencer, M.D., sponsors of the county law, expressed gratitude during a press conference yesterday at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge. The Legislators had traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2014 to speak about the dangers of powdered caffeine and urge the FDA to implement a federal ban.
Presiding Officer Gregory said, “We are certainly pleased that the FDA has done its due diligence, looked at how dangerous this is and the potential for loss of life, and made the decision to protect our young people. This is a rare undertaking for the FDA, that they would move forward on a ban, and it emphasizes the critical nature of what we have done here. We are happy that the process has worked.”
Laura MacCleery, Policy Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, issued a statement saying, “We are delighted that the excellent advocacy by lawmakers has resulted in decisive action by FDA to make consumers safer from the risks of pure, bulk caffeine products and appreciate that lawmakers from New York, including Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and Legislator William Spencer, M.D., came down to D.C. to push for this terrific outcome.”
The measure bans highly concentrated products in either powdered or liquid form that sold in bulk, which contain hundreds of potentially lethal doses of caffeine. According to the FDA, a single teaspoon of powdered, pure caffeine is equivalent to about 25 cups of coffee – a potentially toxic dose of caffeine.
Legislator Spencer said, “The recommended dose is 1/16 of a teaspoonful. Can you imagine a consumer trying to deal with this product at home? Our young people today are more stressed than ever to do well in school, to do well in college. They can turn to caffeine to stay up to perform, but when you look at caffeine, one teaspoonful is potentially lethal. There is no antidote. Caffeine stays in the system and keeps attacking the system over and over. So this is important. It’s a very special occasion, and it’s national news.”
Tracy Trypuc, a local RN, MBA, MPH who supported the county's 2014 ban, said, "This important FDA decision on the distribution of powdered and liquid caffeine that can be lethal is a testament to the power to initiate change at the local level. I believe and continue to work for public health. The movement for this change started at the local Suffolk County level with the work of the Board of health and the County Legislature. Rather than waiting for federal action laws were passed that helped inspire the decision at national levels. We must continue to work to keep our children safe from harm."
The Legislators were joined by Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Dr. James Tomarken; Zahrine Bajwa, Project Director, Long Island Region, Nutrition, Health & Obesity Prevention Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County; Maryann Birmingham, former Nutrition Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County; and Glenda Jackson, President, and Debra McCoy, R.N., member, National Council of Negro Women, Huntington Section.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory discusses the new FDA ban on highly concentrated powdered caffeine sold in bulk as, from left, Zahrine Bajwa, Project Director, LI Region, Nutrition, Health & Obesity Prevention Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County; Glenda Jackson, President, National Council of Negro Women, Huntington Section; Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health; Legislator William R. Spencer, M.D.; and Maryann Birmingham, former Nutrition Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County look on.