Like coffee, energy drinks not suitable for children.
The Australian Beverages Council’s CEO, Geoff Parker, representing the local energy drinks industry, responds to recent media coverage about the impacts of energy drinks on children.
Like coffee, energy drinks are not recommended for children or people sensitive to caffeine and there is a clear statement on the can advising the same. When older teenagers become interested in energy drinks, that’s a discussion for around the kitchen table as to their suitability, just as it is for coffee or other caffeinated foods.
To support families to know more about energy drinks, in 2015 the industry launched its website with helpful facts and information about the drinks and common ingredients, including caffeine. In 2011 the industry also launched a set of voluntary commitments that prohibit the sale of energy drinks in any school and restricts marketing and advertising to children. In 2022 the industry launched its highly popular DrinkFacts website, with a dedicated energy drinks section, to providing what’s needed for consumers to make an informed choice.
In Australia, all energy drink manufacturers and distributors are required by law to comply with the Food Standards Code which sets caffeine limits, imposes mandatory advisory statements that these products are not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women or caffeine sensitive persons and requires all drinks to include an advisory statement that recommends consumption of a maximum of two 250mL cans per day (being 500mL in total). We know that in the recent years there have been imports of drinks from overseas which do not comply with Australia’s strict regulations. We condemn such imports and the sale of these no-compliant drinks and have worked closely with governments to remove them from shelves and warehouses and to stop them at our ports. Our members take their compliance with these regulations seriously.
Research commissioned by the Australian Government shows energy drinks constitute a tiny proportion of the total caffeine consumed by children: less than 1.2 per cent of overall caffeine intake for Australian children aged between 9 and 13 years, and 3.8 per cent for children aged between 15 and 16 years.
Government data shows that the majority of dietary caffeine for the average child is sourced from a range of products with no such regulations or limits including coffee, tea and chocolate. Popular drinks for children from coffee shops are known to have up to 200mg of caffeine per serve with no regulations whatsoever. A cup of barista made espresso can contain up to seven times the amount of caffeine as a single can of energy drink. The industry would suggest that the current regulations for energy drinks in Australia are more than adequate to support safe and responsible consumption.
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