03 September 2009

Energy Drinks To Be Banned In NSW?

One would think that the NSW Government has more pressing matters than the total banning of energy drinks, then again perhaps not. There has recently been a report that a number of Year 7 students suffered some side effects after drinking the energy drinks on their way to school. It is alleged that these energy drinks caused the youngsters to suffer a little dizziness and nausea.

The government's reaction, ban them! Unfortunately, for the NSW Government, these drinks are usually registered as a dietary supplement at the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). So, the simple conclusion is that under Australian law these drinks are legal despite the high levels of caffeine that they include.

The Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, has stated that the NSW Government is looking into ways that the drinks can be banned and removed from the shelves. This is not going to happen anytime soon. A much better approach would be to reclassify the beverages concerned so that they may only be purchased by individuals over 18 years of age. Therefore, anyone selling them would be required to ask for proof of age before making a sale.

The science suggests that some of these drinks contain 12 to 15 times the recommended level of caffeine in terms of intake. However, the fact that these drinks have been registered as dietary supplements would also suggest that they are not dangerous. Nevertheless, this clearly requires a caveat, namely: anything that is abused can be dangerous. Excessive drinking of alcohol is dangerous, for example.

To suggest that there is anecdotal evidence that energy drinks are dangerous is a little bit on the simplistic side, as there would be an equal amount of anecdotal evidence that suggests that even greater levels of consumption than those noted do not cause any specific side effects.

It will be interesting to see whether this blows over or whether the NSW Government goes all out in order to not only restrict the sale of energy drinks but to ban them altogether.

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