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A Labour government will ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s, Keir Starmer is to reveal today.

The Labour leader will say energy drinks, often packed with high levels of caffeine, are harming children’s health as well as their education.

The Conservative government did not take action after a 2018 consultation found more 90% of respondents agreed businesses should be prohibited from selling energy drinks to children.

The Grocer reported in February that Labour was drawing up proposals for a ban, after shadow health secretary Wes Streeting announced plans to “steamroll” the industry into supporting the marketing of healthier products.

Supermarkets welcomed the proposals, which would which would bring legislation into line with voluntary bans brought in by all the major retailers, after Asda became the first of the big supermarkets to ban the sales in January 2018.

Will Labour ban fast food near schools?

In January this year, more than 40 health groups wrote to the government and Labour shadow ministers demanding the revival of the shelved plans after new research was published about their risks.

A review of data, published in the journal Public Health, claimed energy drink consumption had links to suicidal thoughts, psychological distress and many other symptoms among children.

Labour’s move comes after it revealed yesterday it planned to ban fast food outlets near schools if it wins the general election, as part of an “ambitious” clampdown on ultra-processed and HFSS foods.

“We applaud Labour for putting children’s health at the core of their future strategy,” said Children’s Food Campaign manager Barbara Crowther.

“All evidence points to heavily caffeinated energy drinks being harmful to children’s physical and mental health.

“It’s perverse that sugary high-caffeine energy drinks can be sold directly to children, despite being required to carry warnings that they’re ‘not suitable for children’. Closing that loophole makes total common sense. Energy drinks companies simply shouldn’t be allowed to profit at the expense of child health.

Labour reviews evidence on energy drinks 

“It’s over five years since the government consultation on stopping energy drinks sales to children was supported by 93% of respondents, including several supermarkets who have already implemented their own age checks for under-16s and who want to see a level playing field across all retailers.

“We’re pleased that Labour has reviewed the evidence and committed to action on energy drinks.”

Obesity Health Alliance director Katharine Jenner said; “These proposals to protect children’s health are very welcome. Stopping irresponsible companies selling kids energy drinks that harm their physical, mental and dental health is common sense. So is protecting children from the flood of junk food advertising.

“But what’s even more welcome is the acknowledgement that better food and drink is at the heart of creating a healthier, fairer and wealthier society.

“We want to see a future where the health of our children is put above the interests of food industry giants. We expect action that matches the scale of the challenge we face. The healthy choice should be the easy choice for everyone – and at the moment, it isn’t.”