If you’ve ever overdosed on coffee, then you’ll know the sickly, shaky feeling that appears when you drink too much. So imagine how a pair of students felt after they consumed the caffeine equivalent of 300 cups in a single dose during a sports experiment at their University.
The two 20-year-olds - Alex Rossetto and Luke Parkin – were taking part in a practical exercise at Northumbria University, which is in Newcastle, UK, back in March 2015.
The experiment was meant to test caffeine’s effects during exercise. A powdered version of the stimulant was mixed with orange juice for the students to consume, but instead of receiving 306mg, Rossetto ingested 30.7g of caffeine, while Parkin took 32g instead of 320mg. The overdose was the result of a misplaced decimal point when calculating the correct amount for height and weight, which was reportedly done on a cellphone.
That amount of caffeine is almost twice the recognized lethal dose – there have been reported deaths after consumption of just 18g. The students instantly suffered blurred vision, dizziness, shaking, and rapid heartbeat. They were rushed to hospital in a “potentially life-threatening condition” and had to undergo dialysis.
As reported by the Sunderland Echo, prosecutors at Newcastle Crown Court said: “there was no suitable and sufficient risk assessment, inadequate supervisor, inadequate checks and failure to follow rudimentary health and safety legislation."
Both men have made a full physical recovery and were able to continue with their studies, though they suffered months of side effects following their ordeal, including short-term memory loss by Rossetto.
The University said that "all those involved are deeply sorry and genuinely sorry.” It was fined £400,000 (just over $500,000).