Maria Caulfield MP raises energy drink concerns with Prime Minister following constituent suicide

Maria Caulfield MP has raised the tragic suicide of her constituent Justin Bartholomew and the dangers of high energy drinks with the Prime Minister at PMQs.

Maria Caulfield met late last year with the family of Justin Bartholomew, who believe that his mental health concerns were exacerbated by the up to 15 cans of highly concentrated energy drinks that he was consuming every day.

Having listened to the family’s concerns Maria Caulfield questioned Ministers in the Department for Health in December and has now raised the concerns directly with the Prime Minister at PMQs.

Maria Caulfield MP said in the House of Commons “My constituent Justin Bartholomew was just 25 when he committed suicide late last year. His family are convinced his intake of high energy drinks, over 15 cans a day, increased his anxiety and contributed to his death. Given the increased safety concerns round the high energy drinks market and the actions of people like Jamie Oliver and Waitrose, would the Prime Minister consider introducing a national ban on the sale of these energy drinks to under 16s.”

The Prime Minister responded “My honourable friend raised a tragic case and I know that the thoughts and sympathy of the whole House will be with the family and friends of Justin Bartholomew. Of course we have introduced the soft drinks industry levy, we do recognise that there are issues around drinks that are high in sugar and we know that energy drinks high in sugar can be damaging to children’s health. We’re supporting schools and parents to make healthier choices and identifying these through clearer labelling, through campaigns but of course this is an issue that the Department for Health and Social Care continue to look at and continue to look at the scientific evidence in relation to these drinks.”

After PMQs Maria Caulfield MP said “These energy drinks are unhealthy at best and dangerous at worst. The tragic case of my constituent Justin Bartholomew highlights the dangers that they pose in high quantities. But these high energy drinks are also dangerous when consumed by children, and I am glad that Waitrose have decided to ban their sale to under 16s. I believe that this should be rolled out nationally, and am pleased that the Department for Health and Social Care will continue to look at this issue.”

A clip of the question and answer can be found here