Study Accidentally Doses Students with Caffeine Equivalent of 300 Cups of Coffee

They ended up in intensive care, hooked up to dialysis machines, and even experienced short-term memory loss.
January 27, 2017, 10:00pm
Foto via Flickr-brugeren Basheer Tome

Have you ever accidentally consumed 300 cups of coffee?

Probably not. But two guys in Newcastle, England have. It was all in the name of science—and it damn near killed them.

Northumbria University sports science students Alex Rossetta and Luke Parkin volunteered to take part in a study about the effects of caffeine on exercise. But they got a hell of a lot more than they bargained for when researchers accidentally administered 30 grams of caffeine to each participant.


To put that number in perspective, your average cup of coffee contains 0.1 grams of caffeine, and the study was actually trying to measure the effects of three cups, or 0.3 grams. As you probably already know, three cups of coffee is enough to make most people anxious and fidgety.

READ MORE: How Much Caffeine Will Kill You?

Parkin and Rossetta were pumped with 30 grams of caffeine after someone at the lab got their decimals confused while entering the quantities into their cellphone. Shortly after, the two students became unwilling participants in a separate, accidental study about what happens when you drink 300 cups of coffee's worth of caffeine in one shot. And the results are not pretty.

According to the BBC, both men ended up in intensive care, hooked up to dialysis machines to help their overwhelmed kidneys out, and Rossetta even experienced short-term memory loss as a result of the megadose.

Death from caffeine intake has been reported at doses as low as .48 grams (that's about two venti lattes or two cans of energy drink), and ten grams would be like downing 50 shots of 5-Hour Energy, so think of it this way: Parkin and Rossetta had technically been given the caffeine equivalent of 150 shots of 5-Hour Energy.

Northumbria University said in court that it was "deeply, genuinely sorry," while the prosecutor in the case argued that "the staff were not experienced or competent enough and they had never done it on their own before" and that the university "took no steps to make sure the staff knew how to do it."

Northumbria University ended up being fined £400,000 due to the error.

Maybe that lab technician should have had a little more coffee that morning.