High caffeine soft drinks must carry a health warning and not be promoted to children under-16, under a new code of practice.
The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) code of practice states that high caffeine drinks, produced by its members, must carry a label stating “Not suitable for children, pregnant women and persons sensitive to caffeine”.
In addition, the drinks should not be marketed to under-16s. Drinks are defined as high in caffeine if they contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre – roughly the same amount as a cup of coffee.
The code will apply to energy shots if they are marketed as soft drinks but not to energy shots categorised as food supplements as they already have to carry extensive labelling.
“The guidelines published today show industry strengthening its commitment to informing consumer choice about the drinks that are suitable for children,” said BSDA director general Jill Ardagh.
“Many adults enjoy drinking high caffeine content soft drinks, but these drinks are not manufactured for children, and it is responsible to say so on the label.”
However, the biggest caffeine soft drink producer Red Bull is not a member of the BSDA and said it would wait for a European-wide code of practice to be produced.