New law takes effect banning coffee at South Korea schools

Sales of coffee and drinks high in caffeine will soon be banned at schools in South Korea, as a revised children’s food and safety law takes effect Friday.

Sales of coffee at South Korean schools are barred under a revised law that took effect Friday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Sales of coffee at South Korean schools are barred under a revised law that took effect Friday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Under the law, primary and secondary schools in South Korea must stop selling coffee and caffeinated drinks to students via school vending machines and snack shops.

Drinks like sodas and those high in caffeine have been banned for sales to children since 2014. However, coffee was not part of the ban, as it was excluded from the list of drinks preferred by children.

The revised act, proposed by Kim Sang-hee of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, now includes coffee as one of the prohibited caffeinated drinks at schools.

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Coffee and caffeinated drinks have been popular among students, especially during exam periods, to help them stay alert and study in the country’s highly stressful education system.

The South Korean government has set the caffeine intake for children and teenagers under 19 years old at 2.5mg per kg of body weight per day.

Drinking a can of instant coffee with an average caffeine content of 84 mg would exceed the daily limit.

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Experts say South Korean adolescents drink 24mg of caffeine per day, on average — 16 percent higher than the daily recommended intake. Children at elementary schools drink 7.9 mg — 8 percent over the recommended limit, according to a research by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

ByWooyoung Lee