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Australia to ban caffeine powder following tragedy

The Morrison government is taking decisive action towards banning the sale of pure and highly concentrated caffeine food products, including pure caffeine powder, for personal consumption.

The ban comes after receiving a report into the safety of caffeine powders and high caffeine content products commissioned by Minister Richard Colbeck and Minister Greg Hunt following the tragic death of 21-year-old Lachlan Foote from acute caffeine toxicity.

Minister Colbeck, who has portfolio responsibility for food regulation, said the government is acting to prevent avoidable deaths from these dangerous products by accepting all recommendations of the report.

“Lachlan Foote’s death was an absolute tragedy, and our government is determined to prevent something like this occurring again,” Minister Colbeck said.

“The dangers of pure caffeine powder cannot be underestimated. Pure caffeine products can contain the maximum recommended daily dose of caffeine in 1/16th of a teaspoon, with a potentially fatal dose – the equivalent of between 25 to 50 cups of coffee – in a single teaspoon.”

Minister Colbeck said the average “safe” quantity of pure caffeine products often could not be accurately measured on standard kitchen scales.

He said that the proposed ban would not affect caffeinated products such as coffee, energy drinks, cola drinks and sports foods, which have much lower concentrations of caffeine, and may already be prescribed in the code.

Minister Colbeck said the ban would be accompanied by an education campaign to get that message out and to ensure that people, particularly young people, are not unwittingly harming themselves with a supplement they believe to be safe.

“Australians are also reminded to be cautious about the products they may be purchasing from overseas or online, which may not be safe,” Minister Colbeck said.

In July, Minister Colbeck and Health Minister Hunt wrote to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) requesting a review into the safety of caffeine powders and high caffeine content food products. Minister Colbeck has accepted all the recommendations of this review.

FSANZ will now work closely with the appropriate agencies and jurisdictions in implementing the recommendations.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has also taken steps to limit the risk of accidental overdose of caffeine, including new restrictions on the concentration of pure caffeine allowed in listed medicines.

“I acknowledge the work of Lachlan Foote’s family and friends, as well as the NSW Coroner and FSANZ, and I sincerely hope that this action will prevent such tragedies occurring again,” Minister Colbeck said.