Pure and highly concentrated caffeine food products (including pure caffeine powders) are banned from retail sale in Australia and New Zealand. These products are typically bought online and can have serious health effects, including death.
Pure and highly concentrated caffeine powders are typically marketed as sports supplements and can contain the same amount of caffeine as 25 – 50 cups of coffee in a single teaspoon. Because these powders come in bulk packets, it is almost impossible for people to measure a safe dose from a toxic dose and has resulted in death.
About the ban
To protect consumers in Australia and New Zealand, foods that contain 5% or more of caffeine in solid or semi-solid foods (like powders) and 1% or more in liquid form are banned from sale to the public.
Caffeine added to food
Caffeine occurs naturally in foods like coffee, tea and cocoa and has a long history of safe use as a mild stimulant. They are not included as part of this ban.
Caffeine can also be added to cola-type soft drinks and formulated caffeinated beverages (energy drinks) but there are limits on how much caffeine can be added.
Foods containing added caffeine must have a statement on the label that the product contains caffeine. Foods containing guarana (a South American plant with high levels of natural caffeine) must also be labelled as containing caffeine. This is to help people avoid caffeine either for themselves or their children.
What is a recommended maximum level of caffeine to consume?
|Under 18 years old
No more than 3 mg of caffeine per kilo in a single serving
e.g. for a 40 kg child 3 mg x 40 kg = 120 mg
|Over 18 years old
No more than 400 mg of caffeine per day (all sources)
Maximum 200 mg in a single serving
|Pregnant & breastfeeding
|No more than 200 mg of caffeine per day (all sources)
We have developed educational materials to help people living in Australia and New Zealand understand the risk associated with pure and highly concentrated caffeine powders and foods. See our informational video below.
In July 2019, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Minister for Youth and Sport Richard Colbeck and Minister for Health Greg Hunt asked FSANZ to provide advice about current caffeine permissions in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and to consider preliminary recommendations for strengthening regulations and consumer warnings in relation to caffeine powder and high caffeine content food.
In September 2019 Minister Colbeck released the report and agreed to all recommendations made by FSANZ to enhance consumer safety with regards to caffeine powder and high content caffeine food.