Date published: 
20 September 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Morrison Government today announced it 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 Colbeck and Minister Hunt following the tragic death of 21-year-old Lachlan Foote from acute caffeine toxicity.

Minister Richard 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.

Minister Colbeck added 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 Greg 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.

Read the review report.

The FSANZ review made five recommendations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.