VENDORS who violate rules on publicity and sale of energy drinks in the country will be stripped of their licence.
The strict regulations, published in last week’s Official Gazette, stipulate that energy drinks which claim to boost mental or physical vigour must not be sold to those aged below 18 or to pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The guidelines are part of a ministerial edict by Health Minister Faeqa Al Saleh, under Article 19 of the executive regulations on Public Health Law, and amounts to approving a parliamentary proposal dating back to 2019.
“Energy drinks that claim to boost mental and physical activity, and those containing high percentage of caffeine and sugar or artificial sweeteners as basic ingredients are banned from sales to those aged below 18 years,” said the edict.
“Such products which contain stimulants including taurine, guarana, ginseng and glucuronolactonetaurine are also restricted to this age group.
“Vendors (of these products) must place them in counters that are visible, with clear statements on this regulation, both in Arabic and English.”
The edict restricts the sale of these products to consumers of any age in restaurants, cafeterias and in educational and health institutions. These products cannot be distributed free of cost or as complimentary items.
“They cannot be promoted through any form of advertising – be it audio, visual or in print.”
In the edict, Ms Al Saleh urged importers of these products to abide by rules.
“Manufacturers and importers of energy drinks, as the case may be, shall post a warning label on these products,” the edict said.
“It must be clearly and prominently displayed in both Arabic and English, that the product is not suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women, those under the age of 18, and those who are allergic to caffeine or any of the components of the product.
“It must be stated that the product is not suitable for those suffering from heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes and for athletes while practising sports.”
On procedures to be followed on promotion of these products, the edict stresses the need for a vendor to have a licence from competent authorities. The products must have all details related to its nutritional content and must not contain any ingredient that is harmful to health.
There should be no ‘exaggeration’ of the product quality or any statements that would ‘mislead’ consumers.
Article (16) also adds that any form of product that harms a healthy lifestyle or violates public taste must not be promoted in the kingdom.
A proposal to ban advertisements for beverages with high sugar content was tabled by MPs in October 2019.
It also sought a clamp on sale of soft and energy drinks to those aged below 18 besides calling on companies within the country to display a colour-coded, front-of-package label listing nutritional qualities and sugar content.
It came as neighbouring countries Oman and Saudi Arabia planned to impose taxes on sugar and fast food items, similar to that levied on tobacco and alcohol. The Shura Council had also proposed a similar law regulating energy drinks in April the same year, with stricter regulations on liquid refreshments containing caffeine, taurine, ginseng and guarana, among other things.