Warning Labels Proposed for Energy Drinks in South Africa

The Minister of Health intends to amend the regulations* relating to soft drinks, specifically those categorised as “formulated caffeinated beverage or cola beverage”; in other words “energy drinks”.

What is the motivation behind this? The Government, in an effort to enhance public awareness of the possible effects of these products and to ensure that consumers are protected against any misleading labels, has undertaken to place more stringent requirements on the manufacturers of these goods. The intention is to allow consumers to make informed choices for themselves and for their families.

In terms of the regulations, caffeine containing beverages include “formulated caffeinated beverages or cola beverages”. The regulations further define a formulated caffeinated beverage as “a non-alcoholic, water-based, flavoured beverage that contains caffeine and may contain carbohydrates, amino-acids, vitamins and other substances, including other ingredients, for the purpose of enhancing mental performance”.

Where these “energy drinks” contain more than 150mg/l of caffeine, the amended regulations require that the containers bear the following warnings:

  • A message on the main panel of the label, in bold capital letters not less than 3.0 mm in height: "HIGH CAFFEINE CONTENT”,
  • A clearly legible message in capital letters not less than 3.0 mm in height: "NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 12 YEARS OF AGE, PREGNANT WOMAN, PERSONS SENSITIVE TO CAFFEINE AND NOT TO BE CONSUMED AS A MIXTURE WITH ALCOHOL BEVERAGES",
  • The label on the package will also need to include declarations as to the quantity of caffeine per serving size and per 100ml, expressed in milligrams or "mg".

The public has until 13 August 2011 to comment on the draft amendment.

*This refers to Section 15(1) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act No. 54 of 1972). (information given either as a footnote marked with an asterisk – or preferably a hyperlink to the relevant Section)

Date published: 2011/07/18
Author: Chavern Ismail

Tags: warning labels energy drinks south africa high caffeine content