Poland introduces from January 1, 2024 a ban on the sale of energy drinks to persons under the age of 18. It is not a big surprise, considering long lasting discussion in this regard at the EU and national level.

The problem of consumption of energy drinks by children and adolescents was signaled by representatives of the EU Member States during meetings of the Working Group on Foodstuffs, and outcome of this discussion are the applicable provisions of Regulation 1169/2011, which read that the labeling of high-caffeine beverages requires to include the warning "High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women". Doubts in this regard were however still signaled by Polish politicians and the Ombudsman for Children.

The first step in limiting the availability of energy drinks for children was a national regulation defining the groups of products that may be sold in school shops (in force for 7 years now). However, since then a steady increase in the range of energy drinks was observed - they became more and more popular in all age groups, including children, who could still easily purchase the products outside the school premises. Finally, the issue of a complete ban on the sale of such products to persons under the age of 18 has been regulated in the amendment to the Public Health Act, which was signed by the President of Poland on August 21, 2023.

According to the EFSA report published on the basis of a study involving over 52,000 residents of EU countries, consumption of energy drinks was admitted by 18% of children (3-10 years old) and 68% of teenagers (10-18 years old)[1]. Meanwhile, according to the justification for the draft Act, there are numerous negative expert opinions on the impact of energy drinks on the health of children and adolescents. As a consequence, the amendment to the Act aims to protect this group of vulnerable consumers.

The Act introduces the definition of "a drink with added caffeine or taurine" (a product in the form of a drink that is a foodstuff, included in the Polish Classification of Products and Services in class 10.89 and in Chapter 11, which contains caffeine in a proportion exceeding 150 mg/l or taurine, excluding naturally occurring substances) and prohibits the sale of such energy drinks to persons under the age of 18,  on the premises of the units of the education system (including preschools and schools) and in vending machines. The adoption of the Act will also result in changes in the labeling of energy drinks. Unit packages will have to be marked by producers or importers with visible, legible, indelible and permanent information “Napój energetyzujący” or „Napój energetyczny” (ENG: "Energy drink").

Together with the above rules, the Act introduces sanctions for their violation, including fines up to PLN 200,000 (~ EUR 43,577) and restriction of liberty.

The first draft of the Act provided also for detailed conditions for advertising and promoting energy drinks - they were to be similar to those currently in force for beer advertising. During the first reading of the draft Act, however, an amendment was proposed to abandon the regulation of the conditions of advertising and promotion of energy drinks. According to the applicant, the more restriction of the possibility of selling products to persons under the age of 18 are sufficient from the perspective of protecting the health of minors. Similarities with the alcohol regulations, however, were left in the field of age verification - the seller, in case of doubts as to the buyer's age, may request a document confirming their age.

During the work on the Act, the Senate proposed to postpone the date of entry into force of the ban in question to July 1, 2024, however this proposal was not finally implemented. Entrepreneurs therefore have relatively little time to adapt to the new regulations. Undoubtedly, the Act will revolutionize the energy drinks market in Poland.


 [1]  Instytut Sportu - Państwowy Instytut Badawczy, „Energy drinks and the health of children and adolescents in Poland”, Zakład Fizjologii Żywienia i Dietetyki, Warsaw, 2022, p. 3