Government intends to amend the regulations relating to soft drinks, specifically those categorised as "formulated caffeinated beverage or cola beverage" in an effort to enhance the public's awareness of the possible harmful effects of energy drinks.
The public has until August 13 to comment on the draft amendments in terms of section 15(1) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972.
"In line with international standards, government wants to ensure that consumers are protected and properly advised so they can make informed choices for themselves and their families when it comes to buying highly caffeinated soft drinks," said Hugh Melamdowitz, partner at intellectual property specialist law firm Spoor & Fisher.
"Without adequate and prominent labelling, consumers are less likely to understand whether they are getting a little or a lot of caffeine. The new regulations simply balance the interest of manufacturers and consumers."
In terms of the new regulations, "formulated caffeinated beverage" means a "non-alcoholic, water-based, flavoured beverage which contains caffeine and may contain carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and other substances or ingredients, for the purpose of enhancing mental performance".
Where these "energy drinks" contain more than 150mg/l of caffeine, the amended regulations require that these goods bear the following:
* A message on the main panel of the label, in bold capital letters not less than 3.0mm in height: "HIGH CAFFEINE CONTENT"
* A clearly legible message in capital letters not less than 3.0mm in height: "NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 12 YEARS OF AGE, PREGNANT WOMEN, 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 on the quantity of caffeine per serving size and per 100ml, expressed in milligrams or "mg"