Recent studies have proven that regular use of caffeine and subsequent omission or withdrawal results in drowsiness and inattention - (due to changes in the brain to increase the number of sleepiness indicators to offset caffeine's effect).

Many drugs warn not to drive or operate machinery if they cause drowsiness. It seems arguable that caffeine has an obviously delayed effect but still ultimately causes drowsiness (and it's also more than a natural level of drowsiness because of side effects of caffeine use).

How does caffeine escape this regulation and the consequences of it? (e.g. if someone crashes car after forgetting their regular coffee earlier in day, who is liable?)


Generally speaking, coffee is regulated as a food and not as a drug, even though it contains caffeine. Caffeinated beverages are similarly regulated as foods and not drugs. Foods do not need to carry the kinds of warning labels that drugs contain, instead, they are subject to different labeling requirements.

This may not be rational, but historically, this is how the division of authority was handled, and it has never changed.

I don't know personally how caffeine packaged as a drug, rather than as part of a food product is regulated (e.g. NoDoze tablets).

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    "over-the-counter drugs that contain caffeine must include their caffeine content on their labels along with warning labels, such as: “The recommended dose of this product contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Limit the use of caffeine-containing medications, foods, or beverages while taking this product because too much caffeine may cause nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, and, occasionally, rapid heart beat” and “Do not give to children under 12 years of age.”" ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777296 – Lance Sep 21 '17 at 6:08
  • (nothing about drowsiness) – Lance Sep 24 '17 at 20:35
  • Shiver my timbers. Who knew that there was a "Journal of Caffeine Research"? I doubt that any court would find that there was liability for failure to warn of the hazards of caffeine, other than to be clear about whether coffee is decaffeinated or that a product contains caffeine, simply because there is an assumption, except in Mormon dominated states, that almost all adolescents and adults are intimately familiar with its effects. Warning someone about the dangers of caffeine is like warning someone that knives are sharp or fire is hot. Legitimate threats, but something everyone knows about. – ohwilleke Sep 29 '17 at 6:02

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