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South Korea: Coffee Banned in Schools

(Mar. 23, 2018) On March 13, 2018, an amendment to the Special Act on Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Lifestyle was promulgated by the President of South Korea. (Special Act on Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Lifestyle, Act No. 14263, May 29, 2016, National Law Information Center website (in Korean), amended by Act No. 15485, Mar. 13, 2018, Ministry of the Interior and Safety website (in Korean).) The amended Act will come into effect on September 14, 2018. (Act No. 15485 add.)

The amendment seeks to promote children’s health by preventing them from consuming caffeine, which, according to the sponsors of the bill, is likely to cause undesirable effects on their development. (Proposal of the Amendment to the Special Act on Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Lifestyle (text of bill proposed by Sanghee Kim and 12 other members of the National Assembly) (Feb. 15, 2017), Ministry of Government Legislation website (in Korean).) In particular, the amendment was proposed to stop middle and high school students from consuming coffee to enhance their academic performance by relying on the stimulating effect of the caffeine contained in coffee. (Id.)

Under the Act, the Minister of Food and Drug Safety may restrict or prohibit the sale of high-calorie, low-nutrient, or caffeinated foods in schools. (Children’s Dietary Lifestyle Special Act, new art. 8, para. 2.) Whereas the sale of other foods containing caffeine, such as energy drinks or coffee milk, is currently prohibited in schools by the Minister, coffee has still been available for purchase. (Proposal of the Amendment to the Special Act on Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Lifestyle.) The amendment specifically prohibits coffee itself.

Prepared by Law Library intern Jieun Chang, under the supervision of Sayuri Umeda, Foreign Law Specialist.