A Toronto father is calling for an outright ban on caffeinated energy drinks but city health officials say it isn’t possible.
Jim Sheppard’s 15-year-old son died of a heart arrhythmia after downing a Red Bull on an empty stomach in 2008.
Sheppard and other parents are calling for a ban on energy drinks in their cities.
“I’ve reached out to those people, some of them are in Australia, there’s a number in the States, there’s another lady in Montreal, and they all feel the same way,” he explained. “(Caffeinated energy drinks) should be regulated. We need to have stiff penalties.”
But Dr. Barbara Yaffe with Toronto Public Health says that while there is emerging evidence that energy drinks could pose health risks, it doesn’t warrant outlawing them.
“The evidence is showing there may in fact be serious health effects so we want people to be aware of that and just use caution,” she said.
Yaffe said the focus should be on increasing awareness and added that Health Canada already bans the sale and marketing of energy drinks to children under 12.
“We’re saying increased awareness. Increased awareness of what Health Canada regulations say, in terms of – do not mix energy drinks with alcohol, do not give it to children.”
Sheppard feels the city can take stronger actions to protect young people.
“The City of Toronto has rights on their own properties and I really feel that they should ban the sale, the marketing and advertising of the products on city properties,” he said.
Health Canada already regulates the sale and marketing of energy drinks, but critics say the rules aren’t properly enforced.