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Govt ponders energy drinks ban for kids under 15

Warnings on product packaging and recommendations for sales restrictions simply aren’t enough, says Agriculture Minister Jari Leppä.

Energiajuomatölkkejä kaupan hyllyssä.
Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Two government ministers probing the possibility of banning the consumption of energy drinks by youngsters under the age of 15.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jari Leppä and Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Annika Saarikko have asked the National Institute of Health and Welfare THL to compile a report on energy drinks and corresponding products and their impact on children’s health and wellbeing. The agency is due to report back to the ministers this autumn.

Energy drinks contain regular caffeine, which means that product packaging should include a warning indicating that the beverage is not recommended for children. In addition, the THL and the government’s National Nutrition Council have already recommend that retailers should not sell energy drinks to customers under the age of 15.

"On the basis of the report we will evaluate the possible need for legislative amendments. Recommendations about packaging warnings and sales restrictions have not prevented the increasing sale of energy drinks and similar products to children," Leppä said in a statement.

Incoming government's task

Restrictions on energy drinks and other food items are regulated by food safety legislation, which is the responsibility of Leppä’s ministry.

With parliamentary elections due in April next year, the government will not have enough time to push through any legal reforms on the matter, but Leppä said that preparatory work done now would make it easier for the next government to act quickly on the issue.

Earlier this year, officials in southeast Finland reported rising numbers of young people admitted to hospital after bingeing on energy drinks or consuming them over extended periods..

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