Many countries have justifiably banned the sale of energy drinks to minors, while France, Denmark, Norway, and Uruguay outlawed Red Bull outright because of concerns over taurine. The European countries were forced to legalize it in 2008 due to EU regulations, but French authorities remain skeptical of the drinks’ ingredients and their neurophysiological effects. (Red Bull is still illegal in Uruguay.)
In 2009, Germany banned the sale of Red Bull in several states after tests found trace amounts of cocaine in Red Bull Cola. After the Red Bull-related deaths of a 16-year-old boy and a 21-year-old squash player in 2012, Kuwait banned the sale of the drink to people under 16.
In January 2013, in response to its own spate of energy drink-related deaths and other adverse events, Canada capped the caffeine levels allowed in single-serving beverages at 180 mg. To do so, it forced 28 companies—including Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, and 5-Hour Energy—to reclassify as food products. They had previously been regulated as “natural health products.”
A 2013 survey by the European Food Safety Authority found that adolescents were far more likely to consume energy drinks, with 68% of 10-to-18-year-olds drinking them. In response, Germany and the UK have called for more warnings and stricter regulations. Several UK schools have banned the sale of Red Bull on their premises.
In May 2014, Lithuania became the first EU country to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors—a move it hopes will inspire others to follow suit. Hailing the unanimous vote to enact the ban, ministry official Almantas Kranauskas said, “I think it will serve as an impetus for other countries. Many of them are still hesitating and might be influenced by the lucrative energy drinks industry.”
In May 2015, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned energy drinks containing caffeine and ginseng—including Monster Energy—deeming the mixture “irrational and impermissible.”
Following neighboring Lithuania’s lead, in January 2016 Latvia voted to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. The law will go into effect June 1, 2016.