EU and self-regulation

Energy drinks are a well-established but relatively new product category. They are non-alcoholic functional beverages marketed safely around the world in more than 165 countries.

As for many other product categories, there is no specific product legislation for energy drinks at European level. However, specific product definitions incorporated into national law of certain EU member states have developed over the years into a common reference within the EU. In addition to several horizontal legal provisions applicable in general to all foodstuffs at EU level (e.g. for labelling, claims, addition of nutrients etc.), there is also product-specific labelling legislation applicable to energy drinks.

At EU level, specific provisions are foreseen for the labelling of energy drinks, implemented in the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. According to the latter regulation, labelling of energy drinks includes the indication “High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast feeding women” followed by the indication of the amount of caffeine per 100ml in brackets. This legislation constitutes harmonized European law and is directly applicable in all EU member states.

In addition to the Food Information to Consumers Regulation, EDE has developed a Code of Practice for the Marketing and Labelling of Energy Drinks, which contains several voluntary commitments with regard to the marketing and labelling of energy drinks including the commitment of no marketing to children as well as further commitments on promotion and ingredient composition aiming to safeguard a responsible development of the category.

An increasing number of foods marketed in the EU bear claims, i.e. non-mandatory messages which state or imply that a food has a specific health benefit. Such health and nutrition claims are regulated in the Health Claims Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. Pursuant to Article 13 of the Health Claims Regulation, the European Commission requests the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide scientific opinions on a list of health claims. Permitted health claims have been established in a corresponding positive list, which was published in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012. Additionally, the Addition of Nutrients Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 foresees provisions for the addition of vitamins and minerals and of other substances to foods. These EU regulations are applicable to energy drinks if nutrition or health claims are used on labels or in an advertising context, and/or if they contain added substances falling into the scope of the Addition of Nutrients Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006.

Some EU member states have specific regulatory provisions on energy drinks in their national legislation. They have either adopted specific rules on energy drinks (e.g. Germany, Switzerland) or provide principles for the composition of energy drinks via corresponding food guidelines (e.g. Codex Alimentarius Austriacus in Austria). Other European countries have horizontal legal provisions regarding the addition of vitamins and other substances, which are also applicable to energy drinks (e.g. Belgium, Denmark or Netherlands).

All EU member states are implementing the EU harmonised provisions applicable to energy drinks. Furthermore, some of them have additional product specific provisions relating mainly to the content of energy drinks.