FWD: Energy drink restrictions “must be mandatory”

Chief Exec challenges Parliamentary Select Committee on under-16 energy drink consumption

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has told a Parliamentary Select Committee that mandatory enforcement of the School Food Standards would help stop children under 16 consuming energy drinks.

Giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee, which is looking into the possible effects that energy drinks consumption have on the mental and physical health of children and young people, FWD Chief Executive James Bielby suggested a tightening of the current voluntary standards, which recommend only certain types of drinks be served in schools, and only apply to certain schools.

He said: “Our members distribute food to schools. We are very heavily involved in the school food plan; we are part of the School Food Plan Alliance. The School Food Standards are very clear about the types of drinks that can or should be consumed by children. However, it is not mandatory, it is voluntary, it is partial. For academies and free schools, these rules and standards do not apply.

“We recommend that the School Food Standards should be mandatory across all schools in the UK.”

Bielby also told the committee that co-ordinated voluntary action by wholesalers encouraging retailers to ban sales of energy drinks to under 16s was “very difficult” to enforce, due to the independence of retail customers.

“A mandatory age restriction would be the only way to implement that across the independent retail estate,” Bielby added. “You cannot do it on a voluntary basis because of the independent nature of the retailers.”

He also highlighted that 2017 Kantar Worldpanel data shows that only 6.5% of energy drink consumption is by under 16s.

energy drink FWD James Bielby Kantar Worldpanel Parliamentary Select Committe