The federal Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it's investigating caffeine powder and will consider taking regulatory action. The agency cautioned parents that young people could be drawn to it.
An autopsy found that Stiner had a lethal amount of caffeine in his system when he died May 27 at his home in LaGrange, Ohio, 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.
Caffeine powder is sold as a dietary supplement, so it's not subject to the same federal regulations as certain caffeinated foods. Users add it to drinks for a pick-me-up before workouts or to control weight gain.
A minuscule amount packs a punch.
A mere 1/16th of a teaspoon can contain about 200 milligrams of caffeine, roughly the equivalent of two large cups of coffee. That means a heaping teaspoon could kill, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill ?Hospital in New York.
The powder is almost impossible to measure with common kitchen tools, the FDA said.
"The difference between a safe amount and a lethal dose of caffeine in these powdered products is very small," FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Dooren said.
Glatter said he's seen several younger patients experience complications from caffeine in the last few months. Some arrive with rapid heart rates.
"They're starting to latch onto the powders more because they see it as a more potent way to lose weight," Glatter said.
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, Ohio. Over a week or so this month, the center took reports of three people hospitalized for misusing caffeine powder.
"I can't believe you can buy this," Spiller said. "Honestly, I mean, it's frightening. It makes no sense to me."