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Woolworths-owned supermarket introduces age restriction on energy drinks

Energy drinks will no longer be sold to anyone under age 16 as part of a supermarket ban introduced to 180 New Zealand stores this week.

Woolworths subsidiary Countdown announced it would begin honouring the change from September 2, in a move that has since sparked a mixed response online.

Many expressed their support and thanked the supermarket for its preventative initiative, while others said youths under 16 were capable of making their own decisions.

There were fresh calls for Australian supermarkets to age restrict energy drinks earlier this year after startling research revealed more than half of kids experienced negative health effects after drinking them.

Telethon Kids Institute researchers found more than half of young people who consumed energy drinks suffered as a result.

The study surveyed 3,688 Western Australian high school students about their energy drink use, and found 55.4 per cent of that group had adverse outcomes.

Some issues were serious enough to require medical assistance.

Lead researcher Dr Gina Trapp said the figures were particularly concerning given annual sales had increased more than 600 per cent between 2001 and 2012, and had shown no signs of slowing down.

Confusing labelling was also earmarked as a concern according to Dr Trapp, who said energy drink bottles and cans were not always easily identified.

She said serving sizes were also problematic, with 320mg per litre the maximum amount of caffeine permitted, unless the beverage was labelled a “dietary supplement”.

“Labels must also state the maximum recommended daily amount is 500ml per day, however energy drinks are available in sizes larger than this,” Dr Trapp said.

Photo of Monster Energy drinks as New Zealand kids under 16 are banned from buying energy drinks from Countdown.
Kids under 16 now need to show ID to buy energy drinks from Countdown. Source: File/Getty Images

Woolworths has no plans to introduce age limit in Australia

A spokesperson from Woolworths said the supermarket had no plan to impose similar restrictions in Australia any time soon.

“The decision by Countdown has been made in consultation with New Zealand Health authorities and Government to specifically address the impact increased consumption of high-sugar, highly-caffeinated energy drinks is having on New Zealand children,” the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

“There are no plans at this time to impose a similar restriction in Australia. Woolworths recommends the responsible consumption of energy drinks for all customers.

“All products in this category come with detailed product information and recommended consumption levels on the pack.”

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