By Amy Looker

A spate of negative media coverage on energy drinks mixed with alcohol has prompted leading industry bodies to reject calls for further restrictions on the sale of energy drinks in both licensed venues and non-licensed venues such as convenience stores and supermarkets.

A report on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes program referred to the combination of energy drinks and alcohol as a "lethal mix" and interviewed several young drinkers whose use of energy drinks and alcohol, either in an RTD format or mixed with spirits, led to illness, hospitalisation, and in one case, death.

One of the individuals interviewed for the program, known as Alicia, said that even though drinking alcohol mixed with an energy drink caused a heart reaction that led to her being admitted to hospital, less than one year later she was re-admitted to hospital after making the conscious decision to once again drink an alcohol and energy drink combination while on a night out with friends. 

Geoff Parker, CEO of the Australian Beverages Council, which represents the energy drinks industry in Australia, said that licensed venue data shows that sales of energy drinks account for approximately 0.64 per cent of an average bar's takings.   

"A standard 250ml can of energy drink contains no more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Energy drinks are highly regulated in Australia and these standards not only regulate the ingredients of these products, but also ensure that all product packaging contain warning statements about the caffeine content and that they are not suitable for children and people sensitive to caffeine," Parker said.

"The industry would contend this provides consumers with sufficient information so as they are able to make an informed decision about their decision to safely consume an energy drink or not. Unfortunately you can’t regulate against a lack of commonsense."

Stephen Riden, spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA), said that it has imposed strict standards on its members when it comes to pre-mixed and RTD alcoholic energy drinks.

"These standards include no taurine, no marketing of the energy benefits, including no more caffeine or its equivalent than in standard colas, and a maximum of two standard drinks per container," Riden told TheShout.

"There are only two products in total across all of DSICA members' ranges that have energy components."
Among DSICA’s members are leading global alcohol producers, including Diageo Australia, Bacardi Lion, Brown-Forman and Beam Global.

Riden went on to point out that any alcohol product can be abused, and consumers have to take responsibility for how much they consume.
"Calls for bans are pointless as the non-alcohol energy drinks are widely available in supermarkets and service stations, resulting in easy substitution and self-mixing," Riden said.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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