Australia bans sale of pure caffeine powders
On 12 December, the Australian Government banned pure and highly concentrated caffeinated food products.
Minister Richard Colbeck, who has a portfolio responsibility for food regulation, said the ban would be implemented after all five recommendations from the FSANZ review into the safety of caffeine products were accepted. The five recommendations were:
- That FSANZ develop and declare as urgent a proposal to amend the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) to prohibit the retail sale of pure and highly concentrated caffeine food products.
- That FSANZ consider developing a maximum limit of caffeine in foods, based on the outcomes of the current review of Standard 2.9.4 – Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods.
- That a coordinated inter-agency consumer information campaign on safe caffeine consumption be developed and implemented in conjunction with the implementation of recommendation one, if adopted.
- That, prior to or in parallel with the consumer information campaign, guidance on the regulation of products containing pure or high concentrations of caffeine, and high caffeine content products, be developed by the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR) for, and agreed by, enforcement agencies to inform compliance action.
- That targeted research on caffeine consumption across the Australian and New Zealand population, including consumption by specific vulnerable population groups, continue to be undertaken as part of the upcoming Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study.
Earlier this year, the Morrison government vowed to tighten regulations following the death of Lachlan Foote from acute caffeine toxicity, a day before his 22nd birthday.
“I’m pleased with the swift action that has been taken to prevent the risk of more unnecessary deaths from consumption of these dangerous products,” Minister Colbeck said.
The ban applies to foods for retail sale where total caffeine is present in a concentration of 5% more in solid or semi-solid foods, like powders, and 1% or more if the food is in liquid form.
Minister Colbeck said the ban did not affect caffeinated products like coffee, energy or cola drinks and sports foods, which have much lower concentrations.
“An assessment by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) found that a heaped tablespoon of caffeine powder containing 5% caffeine would deliver around 825 mg of caffeine,” Minister Colbeck said. “This is a significant dose at which the risk of serious health effects start to increase and should not be available for retail sale.”
Across the next year, FSANZ will be working to provide clarity under the Food Standards Code on safe levels of caffeine.
An education campaign will also start shortly to help inform Australian consumers about the risks of caffeine powders and purchasing these products online.
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