Death by caffeine

Unfortunately for 23-year-old Michael Lee Bedford, washing down 32 times the recommended dose of powdered caffeine with an energy drink at a party was the last decision he would ever make.

The Nottingham Coroner’s Court heard that 15 minutes after he took the two teaspoons of caffeine, Bedford was vomiting blood – he later died in hospital. The court heard that the product’s recommendation was to take no more than 1/16th of a teaspoon. The two teaspoons that he took contained roughly 70 times the caffeine as one would find in a typical energy drink.

Outside the court Bedford’s aunt, Sue Burton remarked:

I think there should be a warning on it saying it can kill.

Nottingham Coroner Nigel Chapman noted:

Caffeine is so freely available on the internet for £3.29 (about $5.50), but it’s so lethal if taken in the wrong dose, and here we see the consequence. So many people are upset and distraught by the death of Michael.

Chapman also commented on the strength of the product:

Who would take [one sixteenth of a teaspoon]? It’s such a small dosage – the warning is so small on the front of it. If you’re sharing a bag, carrying it around, and if you hadn’t seen the warning – it could be that anyone at the party could have taken it. It’s so dangerous to take something like this.

Chapman recorded that Michael had died an accidental death.

It is an interesting case. On the one hand, Michael could be said to be pretty stupid for taking 32 times the recommended dose – but how does one measure 1/16 of a teaspoon? I would have thought that most people know that caffeine can be dangerous, but perhaps they don’t – so having a warning on the packet would seem the responsible thing to do, but there is no way of knowing whether it would have helped, because young people will always push the envelope with drugs, whether or not they are legal.

Science and Tech

C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and a reporter at large for We Interrupt and Uberreview. He currently resides in the Japanese countryside approximately two hours from Tokyo - where he has spent the better part of a decade testing his hypothesis that Japan is neither as quirky nor as interesting as others would have you believe.
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