Asda and Aldi join high-caffeine energy drinks ban


Asda and Aldi have joined Waitrose in banning the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to children under 16.

Asda is the first of the "big four" supermarkets to announce an age restriction, which will apply to 84 products from March 5.

From this date customers wishing to buy these products, either in store or online, will need to be willing to show appropriate ID.

Aldi has also announced that customers buying soft drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre from any of its UK or Ireland stores will be asked to prove their age from March 1.

Oliver King, managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi, said: "We are introducing this age restriction in response to growing concern about the consumption of energy drinks among young people."

Andrew Murray, Asda's chief customer officer, said: "We take our responsibilities as a retailer seriously and work hard to ensure we get the balance right between offering choice and doing the right thing.

"We have listened to our customers and want to take a leading position in this area to support parents and teachers in limiting young peoples' access to high caffeine drinks."

Earlier this month Waitrose said customers buying drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre would be asked to prove they are over 16 years of age from March 5.

The move follows calls by campaigners for a complete ban on the sale of energy drinks to children following findings that their sugar and caffeine content remains high despite reformulation ahead of the soft drinks levy.

Kawther Hashem, nutritionist at campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) at Queen Mary University of London, said: "We are delighted to see that Asda has followed Waitrose's lead with its ban on energy drinks and hope all the other big retailers will comply.

"Energy drinks are a contributor to sugar intake which is linked to the development of obesity and various types of cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and is rotting our children's teeth.

"Our study published last month in the BMJ Open revealed that sugar, calorie and caffeine content in energy drinks remain far too high. Just one can of Rockstar Punched (500ml) contains 78 grams of sugar - that's nearly 20 teaspoons. Retailers must be held accountable and reminded to reconsider their ethical responsibility."

The British Soft Drinks Association introduced a voluntary code of practice in 2010 stating that high-caffeine soft drinks should not be promoted or marketed to those under 16.

Youngsters in the UK are among the highest consumers of energy drinks in Europe, figures have shown.

Teachers' union NASUWT welcomed Waitrose's move, saying that one in 10 teachers cited energy drinks as a key cause of poor pupil behaviour in schools.