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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Ministry: Energy drinks in Qatar must have warning labels

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

All energy drinks that are sold in Qatar must contain warning labels on their packaging, Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has said.

The announcement comes months after consumers complained of Red Bull and other beverage shortages in Doha after the drinks were pulled to put on the new labels.

According to the MEC, the label must caution pregnant or nursing women, children under the age of 16 years old, those with heart diseases and people allergic to caffeine against consuming the beverage.

Those who are exercising should also steer clear, the ministry said in a statement, adding that it encouraged people to reduce their usage of such drinks and seek healthier alternatives.

The labels must be in English and Arabic and set against a white background, and the warning should be written in a distinctive color, the MEC said.

Additionally, energy drinks should be sold separately from other products in the refrigerated beverages section.

Drinks that don’t comply to the requirements cannot be sold in Qatar.

Months in the making

In September, Red Bull confirmed to Doha News that new regulations were being introduced in Qatar to govern the packaging and labeling of all energy drinks.

It appears that companies were given a grace period to comply to the new requirements, which took effect on Sept. 1.

Supermarket shelf with some energy drinks, but no Red Bull, in September 2015.
Supermarket shelf with some energy drinks, but no Red Bull, in September 2015.

At the time, Red Bull said the changes has impacted shipments into the country and that its product would be back on shelves within weeks.

Other GCC countries have also taken tougher stances against energy drinks, which contain sugar, caffeine and taurine – an amino acid whose addition has been sometimes controversial.

Saudi Arabia has in recent years banned the sale of all energy drinks at all government, educational and public and private sports clubs and gyms, banned their advertising and introduced a requirement that they carry labels warning of the health side effects in both English and Arabic.

And the UAE made warning labels mandatory some five years ago.

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