Sharjah cracks down on outlets selling energy drinks to under-16 kids
Sharjah - The official said that cafeterias, and restaurants are aware about this ban, which was imposed in 2017.
The Sharjah Municipality has launched a massive crackdown on cafeterias in residential areas found selling energy drinks to children under the age of 16.
The move has come following a flood of complaints from parents, who claim that their kids consume these energy drinks to keep themselves awake throughout the night.
Some residents said that children aged between 10-15 years are often spotted sitting in cafeterias near their homes during late evening, enjoying these energy drinks, which most of the time are mixed with juices.
They added that the kids often indulge in such practice during the summer holidays after school closure, but this year it has surged phenomenally as many of them are not travelling for vacations due to Covid-19 pandemic.
A top official at the health department of Sharjah Municipality said that the civic body has received many complaints about sale of energy drinks which affect the health of children and hence, inspectors are zeroing in on the cafeterias and other food outlets. "The municipality also bans mixing of energy drinks with other beverages and selling them to children under 16," he pointed out.
The official said that cafeterias, and restaurants are aware about this ban, which was imposed in 2017. They received notices and circulars informing them about the decision. "The groceries and supermarket chains can continue to sell energy drinks, but keep them in a separate place and not sell them to children less than 16 years old," he warned.
'Detrimental to health'
The official explained that energy drinks contain a high percentage of caffeine, sugar and artificial colours which should not be consumed in large quantities. Energy drinks are detrimental for young people and heart patients, he warned.
He stressed that the packaging information should clearly display the following warning: 'This product should not be consumed by pregnant women, lactating mothers and children less than 16 years old, athletes during exercise, and people who are allergic to caffeine, and those suffering from heart problems.'
Meenakshi Kumar, a paediatrician, said the quantity of caffeine in energy drinks could result in elevated heart rates, hypertension, anxiety, headaches and interrupted sleep. "Minors should not have energy drinks, while adolescents should not consume more than 100mg of caffeine a day."
Call for strict monitoring
Maryam Khan, a parent of a 15-year-old boy, who lives in Al Mahatta residential area, said that her son always used to ask her for money to buy juices from cafeterias but later she discovered that these were mixed with energy drinks so he could stay awake all night and play electronic games.
Deepa Sunder, another parent who stays in Al Soor, said that during summer vacations, her son gorges on cafeteria food and shuns home-made dishes. "I found out that the cafeteria delivered juices mixed with energy drinks at home. I went to the shop and pulled them up, and they said they didn't know that the order was meant for a minor."
She urged the authorities concerned to tighten its monitoring on food outlets to ensure they don't flout rules and cause health hazard to kids.
Al Rad Cafeteria said that every year, they receive warnings and notices banning sale of juices mixed with energy drinks and their sale to minors. "But the children are smart, and they know how to trick cafeteria employees to get the energy drinks."
Nitin, a grocery employee, said municipality inspectors have instructed them to display the energy drinks separately and instructed us to sell them only to adults.