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Ohio teen athlete's death prompts warning about caffeine powder

| Saturday, July 19, 2014, 8:51 p.m.
Keystone High School wrestler Logan Stiner (top) takes part in a Jan. 16, 2014, match in Sheffield Village, Ohio. A recent autopsy found that the 18-year-old Stiner had a lethal amount of caffeine in his system when he died on May 27, 2014.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to avoid pure powdered caffeine sold on the Internet after the death of an Ohio teen.

Even a teaspoon of the powder could be lethal — it is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee.

The FDA on Friday said it is investigating caffeine powder and will “consider taking regulatory action.”

In the meantime, the agency said it is recommending that consumers stay away from it.

Teenagers and young adults may be particularly drawn to the powder, which is a stimulant. Caffeine powder is marketed as a dietary supplement and is unregulated, unlike caffeine added to soda.

A few weeks before their prom king's death, students at an Ohio high school attended an assembly on narcotics that warned about the dangers of heroin and prescription painkillers.

But it was caffeine — one of the world's most widely accepted drugs — that killed Logan Stiner.

“I don't think any of us really knew that this stuff was out there,” said Jay Arbaugh, superintendent of the Keystone Local Schools.

An autopsy found that Stiner had a lethal amount of caffeine in his system when he died May 27 in his home in LaGrange, southwest of Cleveland.

Stiner, a wrestler, had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system, as much as 23 times the amount found in a typical coffee or soda drinker, according to the county coroner.

His mother has said she was unaware her son took caffeine powder. He was just days away from graduation and had planned to study at the University of Toledo.

Health officials worry about caffeine powder's potential popularity among exercise enthusiasts and young people seeking an energy boost.

Dr. Henry Spiller directs a poison control center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. Over about a week this month, the center took reports of three people hospitalized for caffeine powder.

“I can't believe you can buy this,” Spiller said. “Honestly, I mean, it's frightening. It makes no sense to me.”

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