New energy drink age-restrictions in Countdown stores from today

From today, customers will need to be 16 years or older to buy energy drinks at Countdown’s 180 stores across the country as the company’s new age-restriction kicks in.

After announcing the move in late July, over the last month Countdown has been actively talking to customers about the upcoming change, and signage has now gone into stores to let younger customers know they need to provide ID when buying energy drinks.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability,  says support for Countdown’s decision has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We have had incredible feedback from parents, teachers, health workers and our customers about our decision.  I think New Zealanders were ready for this discussion around energy drinks. There are genuine concerns out there about the impact of caffeine and sugar on our kids.

“We made our decision after engaging with health and education leaders, but also in talking with our team, many of whom are parents themselves.  Across the board we found communities of people who are seeking help to address New Zealand’s high child obesity rates. We know there is more to do but we’re confident this is a good move for the health of Kiwi kids,” says Kiri Hannifin.

Public health advocate, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, supports the age-restriction and says a child’s health and wellbeing is a key part of their future success

“Children don't understand either the short or longer-term consequences of consuming drinks with high amounts of sugar and caffeine, and sometimes we need to step in until they are old enough to make that decision for themselves.  I think reducing the access to energy drinks is a step in the right direction to helping Kiwi kids have better health outcomes,” says Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate in the OECD.  Energy drinks are not recommended for children and are currently required to carry a warning on pack stating this.

“We know there are other products in our supermarkets which can also have an impact on health when they’re over-consumed.  Countdown has publicly committed to a range of health and nutrition targets, and we’ll continue to work on reformulation and introducing Health Star Ratings on our own brands as well as contributing to improving the overall health of New Zealanders,” says Kiri Hannifin.


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