Industry rejects tighter laws for energy drinks

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th November 2012

The Australian Beverages Council has rejected calls for “tighter regulation” on energy drinks in Australia, arguing that Australia is already one of the most heavily regulated markets in the world.

CEO of the Australian Beverages Council, Geoff Parker, told Australian Food News that there is no limit to the amount of caffeine that may be used as an ingredient in energy drinks in America.

In Australia, all energy drink manufacturers and distributors are required to comply with all Food Standards administered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) – most importantly Standard 2.6.4 (Formulated Caffeinated Beverages) which set the maximum levels of ingredients, including caffeine, for energy drinks.

Furthermore, he said, FSANZ standards impose mandatory advisory statements that these products are not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women or caffeine sensitive persons. The Formulated Caffeinated Beverages standard requires all energy drinks to include an advisory statement that recommends consumption of a maximum of two 250mL cans per day (being 500mL total).

“The Australian regulations restrict the amount of caffeine in Australian energy drinks to 80mg for a standard 250mL can – that’s equivalent to a common cup of coffee. In addition to this, all labels must contain advisory statements that the beverage contains caffeine and that they are not suitable for children, pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine. All labels must also contain a daily usage advisory statement which states no more than two cans (2x250mL) should be consumed a day,” Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker said the industry has given commitments to restrict the marketing and promotion of energy drinks directed at children and also not to sell energy drinks in schools.

According to the Australian Beverages Council, energy drinks in Australia are primarily marketed to males in the 18-25 year old age group who lead active lifestyles and use a lot of energy. The industry spokesperson said that Australian market research from one major energy drink brand had shown that 93% of consumers of energy drinks are above the age of 20 and that the majority of these consumers were male. The data was gathered in March 2012 from 2,234 respondents in the 15-39 year old age bracket.

The statement by the Australian Beverages Council is part of an ongoing response by the industry to concerns regarding energy drinks. In January 2012, Australian Food News reported  a study about the increase in caffeine toxicity in adolescents that was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Australian Food News also reported a Canadian government announcement in November 2011 advocating reform of the way Canada regulates energy drinks.