By Ian Neubuaer
The Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Tony Robinson, has asked Consumer Affairs Victoria to investigate possible misleading or deceptive conduct in alcohol energy drink marketing.
“Manufacturers, distributors and marketers of alcoholic energy drinks should consider themselves on notice and that their marketing practices will be closely scrutinised to ensure compliance with Victorian consumer protection law,” Robinson announced over the weekend.
The minister also issued a public warning about alcohol energy drinks, cautioning that the combination of alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine or guarana may pose particular health risks.
“Consumers need to know that these drinks may be harmful to their health and wellbeing. The Brumby Government believes that the marketing of alcoholic energy drinks can fail to make consumers aware of some very real risks and adverse effects,” he said.
The announcement was welcomed by the Cancer Council of Victoria director, Professor David Hill.
“The significance of this issue is highlighted by the fact that this is the first ever warning by a Victorian consumer affairs minister on the danger of alcoholic drinks,” Hill said.
“Alcohol-based energy drinks mask the effects of intoxication and means people often drink more, for longer periods of time. This is likely to lead to higher levels of risk taking behaviour and alcohol-related accidents and injury. In the longer term, this kind of drinking can also cause serious harm to health with the onset of diseases such as cancer,” he said.
Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) spokesperson, Stephen Riden, said the industry has already taken steps to address the minister’s concerns.
“We has already applied with Food Standards Australia New Zealand to bring the labelling of alcohol energy drinks up to the highest standard required for non-alcoholic energy drinks, so closing the loophole,” Riden said.
“In response to the allegation that we are not complying with Victorian consumer protection law, the minister has not alerted DSICA to any of his concerns and at this stage we don’t know what he is referring to.”
Industry leaders Lion Nathan and the Foster’s Group ceased production and marketing of their energy-added RTDs in March following mounting external attention.
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