Geoff Potter

Man dies after overdosing on caffeine mints

A MAN died from an enormous caffeine overdose after snacking on high-energy mints that are each as powerful as a can of Red Bull, an inquest in Britain has heard.

John Jackson, 40, ate Hero Instant Energy Mints unaware that they could kill him. Each mint contains 80mg of caffeine, equivalent to a can of the popular energy drink, but are sold alongside normal mints in shops.

Coroner Robin Balmain recorded a verdict of accidental death, but said he intends to write to the Department of Health highlighting the dangers of energy sweets.

He said at the hearing: "It seems to me to be something the authorities need to know about ... This is potentially a dangerous situation. I am as certain as I can be that Mr Jackson did not know he was exposing himself to danger."

Dr Dragana Cvijan, a pathologist, told the court that 79 mg of caffeine has been known to cause death and that a post mortem examination revealed Mr Jackson had 155mg in his system when he died. He was a heavy drinker and had cirrhosis of the liver, which would have limited its ability to process toxins -but it was the caffeine overdose that killed him, the pathologist said.

She told the hearing: "I am sure this is the first time in my experience we have come across what was literally a caffeine overdose .... The amount found was really excessive and entirely in keeping with death due to excess caffeine in the blood."

Mr Jackson, a former painter and decorator, bought a £4 tin of 12 sweets from his local shop. He was found dead in his flat by his former partner in Darlaston, near Birmingham, on 2 May this year. Rebecca Court, his stepdaughter, called for the product to be banned, after the coroner criticised its manufacturer. She said: "It's unbelievable. They're classed in the same place as Polos and Extra Strong Mints. I'm scared to drink coffee now."

Birkenhead-based Hero Energy said that it highlighted the risk with prominent warnings on packaging and shelves.

In a statement, directors Paul Hayes and Steve Hones said they were "shocked and deeply concerned" at Mr Jackson's death. They also said that they "fully understand" the dangers of caffeine.

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