Caffeinated drinks

Drinks containing caffeine can’t be sold in primary school canteens. Energy drinks can’t be sold in primary or secondary school canteens.

Examples of drinks containing caffeine

The following drinks contain caffeine:

  • coffee – all types (espresso, percolator, plunger, instant). Includes long black, short black, flat white, cappuccino, latte, mocha, iced coffee.
  • tea – black and green
  • energy drinks
  • cola and other similar soft drinks, including the diet versions
  • flavoured milks made with coffee.

Why they can't be sold

Caffeine is a stimulant drug that comes from the leaves, beans or nuts of different plants such as coffee beans, tea leaves and guarana. It affects the brain and nervous system, increasing alertness and heart rate. Large amounts can cause headaches, anxiety, agitation, stomach upsets and difficulty sleeping.

There are no guidelines for the safe intake of caffeine in children. Energy drinks can contain the same amount of caffeine – and sometimes more – than a cup of coffee. Drinks with added caffeine (such as cola and energy drinks) are required by law to have a warning on the label saying 'not suitable for young children'. Caffeine intake in teenagers is considered less risky because of their larger body size. Therefore, coffee and cola, but not energy drinks, are permitted in secondary schools along with educational messages around safe consumption.

Alternative drinks

Drinking water is the best way to quench thirst.  Tap water is the best drinking water for children.

Drinking mainly water prevents dental problems, and the fluoride in tap water (and some bottled waters) can help strengthen teeth.

Bottled waters are also suitable (for example, spring, mineral or sparkling).

Plain waters infused with fruit/herb essence or flavouring only (no fruit juice, no sugars and no intense sweeteners added) are suitable. These can be made in the canteen or commercially prepared.

Plain milk or milk alternatives with added calcium (e.g. soy or rice milks) are also healthy choices. Preferably reduced fat.

Other drinks to enjoy in small amounts

  • flavoured milk, milkshakes and smoothies, preferably reduced fat and no added ice-cream, gelato or sorbet
  • 99% fruit juice or vegetable juice (no added sugar).
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