Man died after overdosing on caffeine mints

Coroner calls for more awareness of dangers after John Jackson ate too many Hero energy sweets

A man died from an enormous caffeine overdose after snacking on high-energy mints - each of which is as powerful as a can of Red Bull.

John Jackson, 40, ate Hero Instant Energy Mints, unaware they could kill him. Each mint contains 80mg of caffeine, equivalent to a can of Red Bull, but are sold alongside normal mints.

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. It is up to them to take any action. 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 milligrammes of caffeine has been known to cause death and that a post mortem revealed Mr Jackson had 155 milligrammes in his system when he died.

Mr Jackson was a heavy drinker and had cirrhosis of the liver which would have limited his liver’s ability to process toxins but it was the caffeine overdose that killed him, the pathologis said.

She told the hearing: “To my surprise the immediate cause of death was not cirrhosis, but through caffeine overdose. The post mortem showed other drug traces, but not enough for the final outcome.

“I am sure this is the first time in my experience we have come across what was literally a caffeine overdose. It was confirmed by experts in this field. The amount found was really excessive and entirely in keeping with death due to excess caffeine in the blood. If the liver was not functioning properly that would contribute to the final outcome.”

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: “On the box it said one tablet equals one can of energy drink. 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 “fully understand” the dangers and risks of caffeine and that the packs advise no more than five be consumed in 24 hours. 

The inquest was not told how many Mr Jackson ate but the manufacturers said that he would have had to have eaten “over 300 of our mints, which is staggering” to have the levels of caffeine he had in his blood.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us