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EU considers energy drink ban for under-18s

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Photo: APA
12:36 CET+01:00
Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety, has said he is considering a ban on the sale of caffeinated energy drinks to under-18s - which could mean bad news for Austrian energy drink company Red Bull GmbH.

The non-profit organisation Foodwatch supports a ban, citing evidence from experts warning of the negative health effects of drinks containing caffeine supplements.

68 percent of young people in Europe consume energy drinks and 24 percent admit to doing so four times a week, according to a study from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The study found that adults and young people should not consume more than three milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight a day.

In a statement reacting to the study Red Bull said that “tea, coffee and soft drinks make up the majority of most people’s daily caffeine intake” - rather than energy drinks. Red Bull is the highest selling energy drink in the world.

A half litre can exceeds the recommended dose of caffeine for a 12-year-old, and Foodwatch has warned that the risk of overdose is high for young people.

Austrian Bernhard Url, director of the EFSA, has highlighted the negative consequences of drinking excessive caffeine, especially for young people and those with existing heart conditions. “Heart rate and blood pressure increases, and this can lead to cardiac arrest, and ultimately death,” he said.

Energy drinks typically contain water, sugar and caffeine, with added “performance enhancing” substances such as taurine and inositol.

The sale of caffeinated energy drinks to under-18s has already been banned in Lithuania since November 2014.

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