Call to ban sale of energy drinks to children
THE sale of popular energy drinks to children younger than 16 should be banned, a leading researcher says, because there is insufficient evidence to show their high caffeine content and other ingredients are safe for young people to consume.
Energy drinks are banned in Denmark, have their sale restricted to pharmacies in Norway, and are coming under increased scrutiny elsewhere, according to Dr Scott Willoughby from the Cardiovascular Research Centre at Royal Adelaide Hospital.
He said current warning labels in Australia were inconsistent and insufficient to prevent over-consumption of the high-caffeine products.
“A ban on sale to those under 16 would be a good idea, and perhaps a hotline with information on side-effects and restrictions [should be established].”
Food Standards Australia New Zealand currently require these products to carry labels recommending they not be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women, young children and those who are caffeine sensitive.
But Dr Willoughby, who has been researching the cardiovascular risks of Red Bull (MO, 15 August), said the problem was these were simply recommendations and there was nothing in place to prevent a child buying large numbers of energy drinks.
His concerns follow a US report calling for the introduction of warning labels on energy drinks. It claimed an absence of regulations had led to aggressive marketing of these products.
A spokesperson for energy drink Red Bull said the product could only have global sales of over three and a half billion cans and bottles because “health authorities across the world have concluded that [it] is safe to consume”.