At the urging of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will review the safety of Aero Shots, a new breathable caffeine product. The product allows users to ingest about 100mg of caffeine—roughly the amount of caffeine in an average large cup of coffee—in a powdered "shot" from a lipstick-shaped container.
"FDA will review information brought to the agency's attention about this product" in order to see "whether regulatory action is warranted," the agency reportedly said in a statement released to the press. It's not clear what actual information, if any, was brought to the FDA's attention, unless Sen. Schumer's latest round of ban-happy grandstanding counts. Schumer has focused his attention on worries that club-goers might rely on the boost provided by the caffeine shots to party longer into the night, which sounds like fun for those who enjoy clubbing, but not a matter that should concern the FDA.
Schumer doesn't really have any evidence that the product is harmful, but that is exactly what seems to concern him. He warns that the product's "effects have never been examined by independent regulators to determine their impact on the human body and in combination with alcohol, especially for adolescents." Of course, adolescents are already free to consume caffeine in soft drinks and coffee, often in far larger doses than come from an Aero Shot. Those who frequent Starbucks, for example, have the opportunity to purchase single cups of coffee with an average of 330mg of caffeine, more than three times the amount in one of the shots.
An ABC News report on the FDA decision quotes University of Florida professor Dr. Bruce Goldberger expressing similar concerns about youth access and the possibility that "you could mix it with alcohol in a social setting." Given the recent hysteria over the caffienated alocoholic beverage Four Loko, this is sadly not surprising. But the ongoing freakout over the possibility that someone might mix caffeine and alcohol will surely vex America's many whiskey-and-Coke drinkers.
No matter what, it's telling that the primary worry about breathable caffeine does not seem to be that the product itself might be harmful but the fear that someone might somehow hurt themselves by mixing it with an entirely separate product.
Here's Reason.tv on why the feds, encouraged by legislators like Sen. Schumer, banned Four Loko: