Sales of energy drinks to children under 16 will be banned by most major UK supermarkets from Monday, following concerns about their high levels of sugar and caffeine and impact on health and behaviour.
Customers buying drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre in branches of Asda, Aldi, the Co-op, Lidl, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose will be asked to prove they are over 16.
The high street chemist Boots is the latest retailer – and the only non-supermarket – to announce a ban, following the lead of a voluntary restriction taken by Waitrose in January.
Drinks such as Red Bull, Relentless, Monster Energy and Rockstar have become increasingly popular. Children and teenagers consume them more than adults, even though industry labelling guidelines statew that any soft drink with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre must carry a warning about its high caffeine content and state it is not recommended for children.
The compulsory health warnings read: “High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women or persons sensitive to caffeine.”
The teachers’ union NASUWT called last year for the sale of the drinks to under-16s to be banned by all retailers. Its national official for education, Darren Northcott, described the beverages as “legal highs” that helped to fuel bad behaviour in schools.
Also seeking a ban are medical experts, including the charity Action on Sugar, as well as the TV chef and food campaigner Jamie Oliver.