Drink firms told to ditch `energy' claims

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The Independent Online
"ENERGY DRINKS" containing alcohol, which their makers claim can boost mental or physical capabilities, could lead to excessive drinking and violent behaviour and must be renamed, industry watchdogs said yesterday.

The Portman Group, an organisation established by drinks companies to promote sensible drinking, is to amend its code of practice so that "alcopower" products will not be sold bearing claims or having names that suggest they will improve energy levels or enhance brain power. It is registering the guidelines, which will come into effect on 1 July 2000, with the Office of Fair Trading.

The drinks typically contain caffeine and taurine and are said to energise, stimulate or revitalise drinkers. Gary Ward, of the Health Education Authority, said: "These are reasonably high-strength alcoholic drinks and if people are buying these to have more energy then they are mistaken. Despite many having caffeine in them, they still have alcohol, which far from giving a boost of energy is more likely to depress them. People could go over the top searching for more energy, and binge drinking leads to accidents, violence and sexual promiscuity."

A Portman Group spokesman said drinks companies were not allowed to advertise their products as energy enhancing and so should not be able to label them as such.

A report yesterday revealed there had been no complaints about "alcopops" this year, compared with more than 30 in 1997.