Ensuring Compliance with Proposed Energy Drink Legislation

The UK has reported the highest consumption of high-octane fizzy drinks among young people in Europe. A government-commissioned study reveals that up to a third of UK children consume at least one energy drink weekly, with young males showing higher consumption rates.

Further research links these drinks to medical emergencies and mental health issues in young people. These alarming statistics have spurred the Labour Party to address the issue in their 2024 General Election Manifesto.

Energy drinks, often found in supermarkets and convenience stores, are high in caffeine; for example, you may have heard of Lucozade, Red Bull or Monster.

Attention around energy drinks has risen over the last couple of years as YouTube and Boxing Stars KSI and Logan Paul have collaborated to produce a new energy drink, PRIME ENERGY, which has captivated their teenage audience resulting in $250 million of sales in their first year alone. Drinks such as these, contain 200mg of caffeine per can, six times the caffeine of a comparable Coca-Cola.

The Labour Party has proposed a new children's health and weight strategy, including banning sales of high-caffeine, high-sugar energy drinks to minors and introducing a 9pm watershed and online advertising restrictions for unhealthy food and drinks. This aligns with their broader plans to curb smoking and vaping to protect young people from tobacco and nicotine's harmful effects.

The manifesto outlines a ban on energy drinks with over 150mg of caffeine per litre for those under 16, as it has become clear to health and education experts that the current caffeine labelling system is failing to prevent young children from purchasing these drinks. As consumers and retailers it is important to know, what drinks are likely to be affected?

Energy Drinks InfoGraphic

Retailers would need to verify age, similar to alcohol and tobacco sales, with Kier Starmer confirming that Trading Standards officers will enforce the ban with potential fines of up to £2,500 for non-compliance.

With opinion polls strongly suggesting a Labour government will be elected on July 4th, it is important to pre-empt the implementation of these policies.

Serve Legal have been providing age verification audits for nearly 18 years, strongly establishing us as the market leader across the UK and Ireland. With 6 years’ experience conducting ‘under-16 stress tests' for energy drinks retailers, we have recorded a staggering 30% increase in compliance across the industry.

At this time when we suspect amendments to age verification related legislation, we encourage retailers and businesses to be proactive and invest in third party, independent auditing services to demonstrate their due diligence. Please feel free to get in touch with our team to discuss how we can support your business in preparing for these anticipated legislative changes.

Sources: Labour June 2024, Sky News 2022, Sky News 2024