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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 18:51 GMT 19:51 UK
Energy drinks may carry warnings
Red Bull
The energy drink Red Bull contains caffeine
Caffeine-containing energy drinks may soon have to carry prominent health warnings under proposals put forward by the European Union.

The EU's executive body is proposing stricter rules on labelling pick-me-up drinks.

Among the proposals is one to help consumers control their intake of caffeine and another stimulant, quinine.

Under current EU law certain high caffeine soft drinks, particularly energy drinks, are not obliged to specify the amount of caffeine they contain.

In fact, where caffeine or quinine are used as a flavouring, they may not even be listed on the label at all.

Field of vision

The EU is proposing that such drinks carry the term "high caffeine content" and the amount in the same field of vision as the name of the product.

The aim would be to alert consumers to unexpectedly high caffeine levels in certain soft drinks.

The new rules, which need the approval of EU governments and the European Parliament, could take effect across the union from July 2004.

They would apply to drinks that contained more than 150 milligrams of caffeine per litre.

The new law would not apply to tea and coffee drinks whose generic name already implies a high caffeine content.

High caffeine consumption may trigger temporary behavioural changes such as hyperactivity, particularly in children, and it is not recommended for pregnant women.

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