Call for ban on fad drink rises as pupils ‘behave strangely’

SGBs asks state to probe content of Prime

Matakanye Matakanye
Matakanye Matakanye
Image: Supplied

School governing bodies have called for a ban of the new trendy hydration drink Prime after claims that learners behave strangely after drinking it.

Teens across the country have got caught up in a craze over the newly launched product, which was first became made popular on social media platform TikTok.

Prime hit local wholesale shelves from the UK towards the end of April and was sold out at many outlets.

National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) general secretary, Matakanye Matakanya, said the body had received complaints from teachers and parents of learners behaving differently after consuming the hydration drink.

Matakanya was unable to state the number of complaints received, but said it was enough to raise alarm about the drink.

“We received these complaints last week. The teachers said they noticed that the kids behaved differently after break. We want the department to quickly investigate what is in the drink and whether it is harmful or not. “But while waiting for the results, SGBs must ban it. Our process has started already by speaking to the national executive council to pass the message down to our structures. But we are yet to speak with the department.”

Dietician and spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) Lila Bruk said Prime Hydration contains electrolytes, vitamins, antioxidants and caffeine.

She said there was nothing wrong with electrolytes because they help to maintain the correct fluid balance in the body and muscle contractions.

“Electrolytes are present in food and drinks normally and they are safe. However, excess is a potential risk for children, especially with those with underlying conditions such as kidney disease. Prime Energy Drink contains around 200mg of caffeine. Caffeine consumption should be avoided ideally in those under the age of 18. Caffeine specifically can cause children to struggle with anxiety, insomnia, dehydration and hyperactivity. In the case of children with underlying conditions such as heart or kidney conditions, caffeine can be particularly detrimental,” Bruk said.

Khumbula Mathebula, who has been a member of the school governing body in KwaZulu-Natal for more than 10 years said: “The Prime hydration drink issue sounds serious, the department can take a decision immediately because kids’ lives matter. In a normal situation, amending a school policy process starts with SGB of the school sitting down with parents. From then, they take that to the district circuit. “The proposed rule will further be taken to provincial. But if whatever is being proposed is not aligned with the South African Schools Act, it will not be approved. But if it is approved by the minister, it will be gazetted.”

Spokesperson for department of basic education Elijah Mhlanga said: “School governing bodies have the powers to determine what can be brought into school premises. “As far as we are aware the mentioned beverage is not an illegal substance, which means that SGBs at school level should decide on this matter.”

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