CRN Updates Its Guidelines for Caffeine-Containing Dietary Supplements, Citing Safety Concerns for Pure Powdered Caffeine

Washington, D.C., March 26, 2015—The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today announced an update to itsrecommended guidelines for caffeine-containing dietary supplements that discourages the marketing and sale of pure powdered caffeine directly to consumers.

“Our member companies are taking responsible steps to protect consumers,” said Steve Mister, president & CEO, CRN, “by following the advice of FDA and asking industry to support the agency’s consumer advisory that warns of safety concerns for consumers purchasing pure powdered caffeine in bulk. Even though our member companies do not sell this ingredient directly to consumers, as industry leaders we are demonstrating support for FDA’s efforts and urging the entire industry to do the same.”

CRN has added a section to its caffeine guidelines specifically calling on its members not to market pure powdered caffeine to consumers. The addition clarifies that it is not intended to limit marketing or selling of pure powdered caffeine in bulk form as a business to business transaction. 

“Caffeine is one of the most studied and safest ingredients on the market. Pure powdered caffeine itself is a legal and legitimate ingredient for ingredient suppliers to sell to manufacturers who understand how to appropriately measure and formulate it at safe levels to be used as an ingredient in finished dietary supplement products,” said Mr. Mister. “But for consumers, there’s no legitimate use for pure powdered caffeine, and given its very high concentrated form, there’s a real potential safety issue.”

 According to FDA’s December 2014 consumer advisory, these products “are essentially 100 percent caffeine,” with “a single teaspoon of pure caffeine [being] roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee.”

CRN’s updated recommended guidelines for caffeine-containing dietary supplements are available on the association’s website. The original guidelines were released in April of 2013 and included recommendations on disclosure of total caffeine content; label advisories for conditions of use; serving size and daily intake recommendations; and restraints against marketing in combination with alcohol. CRN members were expected to comply within 12 months of its release. Today’s update is effective immediately. 

CRN’s science-based guidelines on caffeine-containing dietary supplements have been developed as part of the association’s self-regulatory initiatives. CRN also has recommended guidelines for: iodine in multivitamin/mineral supplements for pregnancy and lactation; and for labeling of protein in dietary supplements and functional foods; as well as best practices for enzyme dietary supplement products.   

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 150+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers.  In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @crn_supplements and @wannabewell and on Facebook.