Dangerous caffeine powder continues to be criticized

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Food inspector checks caffeine powder

The caffeine powder available at Berlin kiosks called "Coffaina bleibwach" continues to cause a stir. After doctors warned about the possible side effects of caffeine powder last week, the responsible regulatory authority is now also intervening and has samples of the powder checked in the Berlin-Brandenburg state laboratory.

According to the spokeswoman for the Berlin Senate Department for Health, Environment and Consumer Protection, Regina Kneiding, the composition of the caffeine powder that can theoretically also be purchased by children and adolescents is currently being examined by the responsible veterinary and food inspectorate. While doctors warn of dangerous side effects and addiction experts also raised concerns, the manufacturer cannot understand the criticism of their product.

Composition of the caffeine powder is checked As part of the investigation by the Berlin Veterinary and Food Inspectorate, it is to be checked whether the composition of the caffeine powder actually consists of sugar and 120 milligrams of pure caffeine according to the manufacturer's instructions and whether the bags with the white powder in their current form are marketable are, explained Renate Kneiding. The Senate Administration is expecting the first results in about two to three weeks. However, the sensory test found an extremely bitter taste, which is likely to deter children, so the hope of the spokeswoman for the Berlin Senate Department for Health, Environment and Consumer Protection.

Impending side effects of the caffeine powder The caffeine powder "Coffaina bleibwach" was heavily criticized at the beginning of last week after media reports about the sale at Berlin kiosks. The caffeine powder sachets, available for two euros, could theoretically get into children's hands and cause serious side effects, according to the fear of doctors and addiction experts. Even patients with cardiac arrhythmias, liver cirrhosis and hyperthyroidism are at risk of health problems when using the caffeine powder, the spokeswoman for the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA), Ursula Sellerberg, told Welt Online. The risk patients mentioned must not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, the expert emphasized. The same applies to women in pregnancy and nursing mothers. With massive overdoses with intakes above one gram of caffeine, symptoms of intoxication such as rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), muscle tremors, headaches and cramps threaten, continues Sellerberg.

Warning of overdoses The kiosk operators on the back of the packaging of the caffeine powder are asked not to sell “Coffaina stay-awake” to children, and according to the manufacturer's statements, the vendors were also told in personal conversations “that this is not for children”. Disclosure to minors is not generally prohibited, however, and it can be doubted whether the warnings on the associated Facebook page are always complied with. The caffeine powder was supposed to serve as a replacement for the well-known energy drinks and increase the staying power of the Berlin party people during the nights, said the 30-year-old owner of the manufacturer "2Drinks Company". "Our target group is young people from the age of 25. They are often too sweet for the usual energy drinks," says the manufacturer. The caffeine powder is mixed into a drink by the consumer in order to develop its waking effect. According to the information on the packaging, caffeinated drinks are not suitable for this and the producer expressly warns against an overdose.

Health impairments caused by caffeine Physicians such as the senior physician in pediatrics at the Berlin Charité, Stephan Henning, had already warned at the beginning of last week of the impending side effects of the caffeine powder. The natural active ingredient, which is also found in numerous plants such as guarana, coffee, mate and tea, stimulates the central nervous system, increases the heart rate, increases blood pressure and thus eliminates the symptoms of fatigue. However, this can be accompanied by significant side effects such as headache, fatigue, muscle pain, nervousness, sleep disorders and sweating, Stephan Henning warned to "Welt Online". According to the expert, even higher doses may even have serious health consequences, such as cardiac arrhythmias. Over time, the body gets used to the caffeine, the side effects may decrease, but now similar symptoms as described above can occur when you stop taking the caffeine. According to the expert, children are far more sensitive to caffeine, so that a dose of around seven milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is sufficient to cause serious side effects. As the spokeswoman for the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA), Ursula Sellerberg, added, the potentially lethal dose for nicotine is three to ten grams. A fatal overdose is "rare, however, because vomiting occurs quickly after oral overdoses."

Sales of caffeine powder to kiosks extremely controversial According to the ABDA spokeswoman, the sale of the "Coffaina" sachets at the Berlin kiosks is not a problem as long as the powder is not sold for medical purposes. Sellerberg said: "If the product said that it would help relieve cramping sleep, it would have to be approved." But fatigue was not a disease and the caffeine powder was freely available, the ABDA spokeswoman said. In addition, caffeine tablets in a similar dosage can be purchased over the counter in any pharmacy, Sellerberg continues. However, the managing director of the German center for addiction, Raphael Gaßmann, cannot share the position of the ABDA spokeswoman. "There is a different environment in a pharmacy than in a kiosk," said Gassmann, adding: "You will not give these tablets to a child, even if there is no law against it." In addition, the caffeine powder can also be dangerous, although it is legal. Because with the powder, an intentional overdose is much easier to achieve than, for example, with coffee or energy drinks, explained Gassmann.

Manufacturer of caffeine powder rejects allegations The manufacturer is currently vigorously opposing the emerging allegations and described it as being out of thin air. In particular, the owner of the manufacturing company massively rejected the accusation that he seduced young people with the white powder into early drug use. "Anyone who thinks of something like this is probably dealing with drugs themselves," the young entrepreneur goes on the offensive in an interview with "Welt Online". In addition, "there is also baking powder and dextrose to buy, since nobody has anything against it," the 30-year-old continues. However, it should also cause a stir and outrage if baking powder and glucose were sold as powder in small sachets that carry a label that is suspiciously reminiscent of the intoxicant cocaine. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the critics of the "Coffaina" manufacturer accuse them of deliberately playing with the drug's name and product design. In addition, the comparison with baking powder and dextrose lags anyway, since these cannot trigger any comparable side effects as the caffeine powder sold at the Berlin kiosks. (fp)

Also read:
Dangerous caffeine powder at Berlin kiosks
Coffee protects against prostate cancer
Coffee lowers the risk of stroke
Study: coffee and tea are good for the heart

Image: Claudia Hautumm / pixelio.de

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