"Cut top caffeine levels by over half"

Belgium's High Council for Health, the HGR, is pressing for new limits on the amount of caffeine in soft drinks and energy drinks. The Council wants products containing caffeine to include a warning on the label.

Caffeine is contained in coffee, but also in several soft drinks and energy drinks. Caffeine stimulates the nervous and digestive systems, the brain, the rhythm of the heart, breathing as well as the body's metabolism. People consuming too much caffeine risk side effects including insomnia, increased nervousness, high blood pressure and afflictions of the cardiovascular system.

People who regularly use caffeine as a stimulant require higher and higher doses in order to get a high. It can lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms if they abstain from caffeine.

Belgium's Federal Health Ministry has asked the HGR to look at caffeine use in Belgium and to decide whether any recommendations need to be modified. At present the top limit for caffeine in drinks is 320 mg per litre. The Council wants to reduce this to 150 mg per litre.

It also wants drinks containing caffeine to contain a warning on the label.

A quarter of Belgians consume over 210 mg of caffeine each and every day.