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Energy drinks – risky stimulants

Now that Lithuania has banned the sale of caffeine-containing energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster & Co. to children and underage consumers, the German consumer organization, foodwatch, is demanding that Germany follow suit, saying that the German government must implement the recommendations of the WHO.


Only last October, scientists from the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned about the risks of these energy drinks and recommended a ban on their sale to anyone under 18. Energy drinks are very popular, especially with young people, but they are suspected of causing, irregular heartbeat, cramps, kidney failure and even deaths.


"Lithuania has shown its EU partners how to do it, but in Germany the food industry lobby is still opposing better protection for children and young people," explains Oliver Huizinga from foodwatch. "The German federal minister for food and nutrition, Christian Schmidt, must react to the serious warnings from the scientists and stop the sale of energy drinks to children and young people."


Over 15,000 people have already joined an email protest campaign at www.foodwatch.de to support the foodwatch demand.


In October 2014, WHO experts published their research on the health impact of energy drinks, warned about the risks and strongly recommended a ban on sales to children and young people. This study was the latest in a number of warnings about the possible risks of energy drinks with high caffeine and taurine content. They’ve been associated with irregular heartbeat, cramps, kidney failure and even deaths. It’s not only the caffeine which is a problem, but also its interaction with taurine, there are also risks if alcohol is drunk at the same time and if the person is performing intense physical activity. Another consideration is that the sweet taste and fact that the companies’ marketing campaigns have also tended to target young people. As a result, energy drinks are popular especially with children and adolescents.


The German government recognises the risks, but is reluctant to act. When she was Consumer Affairs minister, Ilse Aigner spoke out in favour of a warning label on energy drinks along the lines of “Consuming substantial amounts especially during long sessions of sporting activity and the simultaneous consumption of alcohol should be avoided.” But the campaign for such a label failed due to vehement opposition from the food industry.


Lithuania was the first country in the world to take decisive action. On Saturday, November 1, a law banning the sale of energy drinks to anyone under 18 came into force.


Foodwatch is campaigning for a similar ban in Germany on the sale of energy drinks to anyone under 18, in order to protect minors from the possible health risks. In addition, foodwatch wants the so-called energy ‘shots’ to be banned completely. Shots are sold in smaller containers than conventional energy drinks and they contain even higher concentrations of caffeine and taurine, so that the risk of an overdose is especially strong.


A study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) showed that almost one adult in three consumes energy drinks; they’re especially popular with children and teenagers, with 68% of teenagers saying that they use these drinks. Of these, 12% are what EFSA categorizes as "high chronic consumers" (consuming energy drinks at least four times a week) while another 12% are "high acute consumers" (drinking over a litre each time).


More information at www.foodwatch.de

Source: foodwatch e.V.