Media Release

6 October 2015 

Industry slams calls for age restrictions on energy drinks

The Australian Beverages Council, representing the local energy drinks industry, has today slammed the latest calls for age restrictions on the purchase of energy drinks that appeared in a recent article on The Conversation website.

“The industry outright rejects calls for an age restriction on energy drinks. These calls are sensationalist, misguided and supported by very weak evidence at best. The simple facts are: the category is already heavily regulated; the contribution of caffeine to the diet of teenagers from energy drinks pales in comparison to other foods and drinks containing caffeine, in particular coffee; and the prevalence of consumption by teens is extremely low” said the Council’s CEO, Mr Geoff Parker.

“By law energy drinks must be clearly labelled that they are not suitable for children and no more than two per day should be consumed (2x250mL). These regulations, in addition to a cap on the caffeine content, equivalent to an instant cup of coffee for a 250mL can (80mg), make our energy drink regulations the toughest in the world.

“Australian Government data released as part of a broad ranging review into caffeine1 paints a clear picture of where teenagers get their caffeine from. The average 14-16 year old for example gets just 3.8% of their daily dietary caffeine from energy drinks. This compares with 32% from coffee, 5.2% from flavoured milk and 4.5% from confectionery and muesli bars. If caffeine is the concern for these experts behind the recent calls, which obviously it is, then they should be calling for coffee only to be sold to people with a valid proof of age ID and chocolate to carry warning statements on packs – ‘not suitable for children’.

“The ABS recently released data as part of the Australian Health Survey.2 This survey found that the mean intake of energy drinks across all 14-18 year olds was just 6.3mL, representing less than 0.4% of total intake of all non-alcoholic, non-dairy beverages. In this age group, just 1.7% of the entire population consumed energy drinks. This paints a very clear picture of consumption amongst teenagers.

In addition to abiding by strict food laws, the industry adheres to the following voluntary guidelines as part of the Industry Commitments3:

  • Energy Drinks are not made available in primary nor secondary schools
  • Marketing and advertising activities of energy drinks are not directed at children
  • No promotional activities are undertaken to encourage excessive consumption of energy drinks
  • Labels of energy drinks do not promote the mixing of energy drinks with any other beverage.

“If this still wasn’t enough to prove energy drinks are perfectly safe when consumed responsibly, the European Food Safety Authority’s recent findings state that ‘single doses of caffeine up to 200mg and daily intakes of up to 400mg do not raise safety concerns for adults’. For adolescents (10-18 years), daily intakes of 3mg per kg of body weight are considered safe. For the average 70kg adolescent, this would mean an amount of just over 200mg of caffeine is perfectly safe. This equates to approximately 2.5 cans (250mL) of energy drink, well within the recommended maximum of two cans per day, as stated on all labels.

“Of course with any beverage, moderation and common sense will lead to responsible consumption. The decision as to when an older teen is ready to consume an energy drink is the same decision as for coffee. This is a discussion best led by parents around the kitchen table. To help parents and teens with that decision, the industry recently launched a website that helps people determine if the product is right for them – www.energydrinksinformation.org “Mr Parker concluded.

For more information contact:

Geoff Parker, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council, M: 0407 646 195

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References:

1 The Regulation of Caffeine in Foods, Department of Health August 2013 https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/A294B740C7928C3CCA257BF0001CFFF4/$File/The%20Regulation%20of%20Caffeine%20in%20Foods.docx

2 Hendrie, G.A., Baird, D., Syrette, J., Barnes, M., Riley, M (2015) Consumption of non-dairy, non-alcoholic beverages in the Australian population: A secondary analysis of the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) 2011-12: Comprehensive Results, CSIRO, Australia.

3 http://australianbeverages.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/EnergyDrinks_AnIndustryCommitment.pdf

 

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