EU Commission plans to allow claims that sugary drinks and energy drinks containing caffeine boost “alertness” or “concentration” were vetoed by the European Parliament on Thursday. Displaying these claims on drinks cans would have led to higher sugar consumption among adolescents, who are the largest group of energy drink consumers, said MEPs in their resolution.
"From statistics we know that many young people and even children are drinking a lot of these energy drinks", said lead MEP Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK). “So it's not just the caffeine, it's also that energy drinks contain a lot of sugar too. And we don't think that these sorts of drinks should have any kind of health claims put on them”, she added.
"We're not going to say that adults should not drink coffee or energy drinks. We just don't want to [help companies] to earn a lot of money on a health claim that we think is not suited for young kids", she added.
The motion to veto the new claims was approved by a show of hands.
In their resolution, MEPs note that the Commission itself says that claims that caffeine helps to increase alertness and concentration should not be used for foods targeting children and adolescents. They also point out that adolescents are the largest group of energy drink consumers, citing studies showing that 68% of adolescents and 18% of children regularly consume energy drinks.
Up to 27g of sugar per can
A 250ml can of energy drink can contain up to 27g of sugar and 80mg of caffeine, say MEPs, noting that energy drinks have been linked to headaches, sleep problems and behavioural problems in children and adolescents who regularly consume them regularly.
MEPs also call upon the member states to consider introducing rules on the marketing of beverages with high caffeine content, and of foods with added caffeine, to children and adolescents.
Procedure: Legislative resolution