UK supermarkets ban sales of energy drinks to people under 16 years old

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What You Need to Know: Energy Drinks

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Major supermarket chains in the United Kingdom will only sell energy drinks to people who are 16 or older starting Monday due to concerns about the drinks’ caffeine and sugar contents, according to multiple reports.

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Grocers including Asda, Aldi, Tesco and Sainsbury's will no longer sell drinks containing more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter to people under 16 years old, The Guardian reported.

Officials with pharmacy chain Boots also announced that they would ban the sale of energy drinks to those under 16. The company is the only non-grocer to participate in the ban, according to The Guardian.

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“Helping our customers to live healthier lives has always been our core purpose,” a spokesperson for Boots said Friday in a news release. “We have listened to the growing public concern about young people consuming these high sugar and highly-caffeinated drinks.”

BBC News reported that Boots, Asda and other grocers started to implement the new rule Monday while other chains, including Aldi and Lidl, implemented it last week. Tesco officials announced that the company would no longer sell energy drinks to people under 16 years old starting March 26.

Industry labeling guidelines in the UK require companies that make soft drinks with more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter put a warning label about caffeine on their drinks, according to The Guardian. The label reads, "High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women or persons sensitive to caffeine."

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Still, children and teenagers drink more energy drinks than adults, The Guardian reported.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers campaigned for restrictions on the sale of energy drinks to children, BBC News reported.

"The very high levels of caffeine and sugar these drinks contain impact adversely on pupil behavior in schools and teachers are left to deal with the fallout," Chris Keates, NASUWT's general secretary, told BBC News. "There is a chronic lack of awareness about the effects and long-term health impacts of these drinks which many pupils and parents think are just another soft drink."

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Medical experts, teachers and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver were among those who called for a ban of high-caffeine drinks.

"Our retailers are doing the right thing for the health of our children and now it’s time for government to step up, close the loop and implement a ban,” Oliver said. “We need a level playing field so we can protect all our kids from buying these drinks in all independent retailers.”

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