From 5th March 2018, customers buying caffeinated energy drinks containing more than 150 mg of caffeine per litre will be asked to prove they are over 16 years of age.
The move builds on existing industry labelling guidelines, which require any soft drink with more than 150 mg of caffeine per litre to carry a high caffeine content warning and state it is not recommended for children.
Waitrose is currently the only UK supermarket to announce it will introduce a sales policy aligned with the guidance present on energy drink packaging.
Simon Moore, Waitrose Director of Technical & Corporate Social Responsibility, said “As a responsible retailer we want to sell these products in line with the labelling guidance.
“These drinks carry advice stating that they are not recommended for children, so we’re choosing to proactively act on that guidance, particularly given the widespread concerns which have been raised about these drinks when consumed by under 16s.”
The government guidelines on caffeine intake in children advise “Children, or other people sensitive to caffeine, should only consume caffeine in moderation.”
The move by Waitrose follows a previous ban by Morrisons in 2013 to ban children under the age of 16 from buying high-caffeine energy drinks in some stores.
Teachers’ union NASUWT welcomed Waitrose’s move, reported in The Telegraph as saying that “One in 10 teachers cited energy drinks as a key cause of poor pupil behaviour in schools”.
Further advice on caffeine consumption during pregnancy and breast feeding can be found on the NHS Choices website.
Waitrose has 352 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, 65 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations.