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Toward a home test for detecting potentially dangerous levels of caffeine

Date:
July 30, 2014
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The shocking news of an Ohio teen who died of a caffeine overdose in May highlighted the potential dangers of the normally well-tolerated and mass-consumed substance. To help prevent serious health problems that can arise from consuming too much caffeine, scientists are reporting progress toward a rapid, at-home test to detect even low levels of the stimulant in most beverages and even breast milk.

The shocking news of an Ohio teen who died of a caffeine overdose in May highlighted the potential dangers of the normally well-tolerated and mass-consumed substance. To help prevent serious health problems that can arise from consuming too much caffeine, scientists are reporting progress toward a rapid, at-home test to detect even low levels of the stimulant in most beverages and even breast milk. Their report appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Mani Subramanian and colleagues note that caffeine's popularity as a "pick-me-up" has led to it being added to more than 570 beverages and 150 food products, including gums and jelly beans. It also comes in a pure powder form that consumers can use themselves to spike drinks and food. In small amounts, most people can handle caffeine without a problem. But excessive doses can lead to serious health problems, including insomnia, hallucinations, vitamin deficiency, several types of cancer and in rare cases, death. Subramanian's team wanted to develop a quick and easy way for consumers to determine whether the caffeine levels in their foods and drinks fall within a safe range.

They tested an enzyme called caffeine dehydrogenase and found that it could detect caffeine in a variety of drinks -- with the exception of teas -- within one minute. Also, it was sensitive enough to pick up on caffeine's presence at concentrations as low as 1 to 5 parts per million, the maximum limit the Food and Drug Administration advises for nursing mothers. They say that their method could be integrated into a dip-stick type of test, like over-the-counter pregnancy tests, that could be used at home.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sujit K. Mohanty, Chi Li Yu, Sridhar Gopishetty, Mani Subramanian. Validation of Caffeine Dehydrogenase fromPseudomonassp. Strain CBB1 as a Suitable Enzyme for a Rapid Caffeine Detection and Potential Diagnostic Test. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014; 140725121134001 DOI: 10.1021/jf501598c

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Toward a home test for detecting potentially dangerous levels of caffeine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730094304.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2014, July 30). Toward a home test for detecting potentially dangerous levels of caffeine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730094304.htm
American Chemical Society. "Toward a home test for detecting potentially dangerous levels of caffeine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730094304.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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