We all know that energy drinks contain gobs of sugar and caffeine. For adults in need of a Monday morning pick-me-up every now and then, that’s totally fine. However it’s probably inadvisable to let already hyper kids in on the Red Bull action, lest you want your 10 year-old bouncing off the wall with boundless Christmas morning levels of abandon.
One British supermarket is taking this common sense advice a step further and banning the sale of energy drinks that contain over 150 milligrams of caffeine per liter to anyone under the age of 16. As of March 5, Waitrose is implementing this policy across its stores in the U.K., making them the first retailer to do so.
Energy drinks already contain the following mandatory warnings on their labels: “High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women or persons sensitive to caffeine.” To put these guidelines into perspective, the average serving has about as much caffeine as three cans of soda or one cup of instant coffee. One can of Rockstar also has 78 grams of sugar. That’s about 20 teaspoons!
Despite (or more likely because) of these warnings, brands like Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster have gained immense popularity amongst the teenage crowd. What better (and totally legal) way to pull all-nighters when you’ve got a term paper due the next day?
Simon Moore, Waitrose’s director of technical and corporate social responsibility, said: “As a responsible retailer, we want to sell these products in line with the labelling guidance. These drinks carry advice stating that they are not recommended for children, so we’re choosing to proactively act on that guidance, particularly given the widespread concerns which have been raised about these drinks when consumed by under-16s.”
While health advocates are endorsing the upcoming ban, it also raises fascinating questions about corporate and personal responsibility. It should be interesting to see if other retailers adopt similar policies or if they decide to capitalize on the underage market instead. Or maybe it just gives teens another reason to stock up on fake IDs?
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