UK – The British Soft Drinks Association has welcome the finding by the government’s Science and Technology Committee, which indicates that there is not enough evidence to ban the sale of energy drinks to children.

The committee however suggested that ‘societal concerns and evidence could ‘justify a ban’.

The UK government in August moved a proposal banning the sale of energy drinks to children in England as a means of tackling obesity.

It launched a consultation on whether energy drinks that contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre should be made unavailable for children, targeting the under 18s and 16s.

“The BSDA supported the voluntary ban on the sale of energy drinks to under 16s by retailers as it is in line with our longstanding Code of Practice, so naturally we welcome the Committee’s endorsement of this approach,” said Gavin Partington, Director General at the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA).

“Our members do not market or promote energy drinks to under 16s, nor do they sample products with this age group.

In addition, energy drinks carry an advisory note stating ‘Not recommended for children.

“It is worth noting the Committee found that the current quantitative evidence alone is not sufficient to warrant a statutory ban.

The BSDA is committed to supporting the responsible sale of energy drinks and is keen to work with governments and retailers to achieve this – in line with and in the spirit of our own Code of Practice.”

BSDA members include Red Bull UK, Coca-Cola European Partners, Danone Waters UK and Ireland, and Mars Drinks UK.

The committee inquiry examined the effects of energy drinks, especially the caffeine contained in them, and was launched after research showed that young people in the UK are the biggest consumers of energy drinks in Europe (50%) for their age group.

The government argues that the sale of such products, packed with caffeine and sugar to children could harm them not only health-wise but also in their education.

In the UK, supermarkets Aldi and Asda unveiled plans to ban the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to under 16s from March.

British supermarket chain Waitrose was the first to introduce a minimum age limit on sales of high-caffeine energy drinks as of 5 March 2018.

The legislation targets young people regularly consuming energy drinks, often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks, despite of worrying links between energy drinks and poor behaviour in the classroom.