From March 5, customers buying caffeinated energy drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre from the retailer will have to prove they are over 16 years of age.
The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) said the move built on existing efforts by the industry to curb the consumption of energy drinks by children.
Gavin Partington, BSDA director general, said: “Energy drink manufacturers have taken all possible steps to be clear about the suitability of energy drinks. Retailers, schools and parents all have a role to play in educating children about caffeine and sugar consumption from all sources.
“Energy drinks and their ingredients have been deemed safe by regulatory authorities around the world.”
Waitrose is the only supermarket to introduce a sales policy aligned with the guidance present on energy drink packaging, the premium retailer claimed.
“These drinks carry advice stating that they are not recommended for children, so we’re choosing to proactively act on that guidance, particularly given the widespread concerns that have been raised about these drinks when consumed by under 16s.”
Jenny Rosborough, campaign manager at pressure group Action on Sugar, called for a wider ban on energy drinks being sold to children under 16.
“Energy drinks come with the warning label ‘not recommended for children’ yet they are sold freely to children without any enforcement,” said Rosborough.
‘No part of a healthy diet’
“They form no part of a healthy diet and the sale of them should be banned for under 16-year-olds as Waitrose has boldly done. It’s shocking that other retailers are yet to do the same.”
The ban followed celebrity chef and healthy food campaigner Jamie Oliver’s calls for manufacturers to make energy drinks less appealing to children.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Oliver said: “Kids are saying they are addicted to them [energy drinks], experiencing the lows and needing another to get back up again.
“Even though the industry and the companies will say we do not market to kids, you will hear the opposite from kids.”
Meanwhile, children’s snack consumption should be limited to two 100-calorie products a day, Public Health England (PHE) has urged parents, after launching a new campaign to promote healthier eating.