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Health Canada moves to restrict alcohol in single-serve sugary drinks

Change follows death of teen

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Health Canada is taking measures to crack down on sugary high-alcohol drinks like the one consumed by a Quebec teen who died last winter.

The federal health agency said research suggests these single-serve products are creating a public health risk, especially for youth.

It is proposing the beverages no longer contain the equivalent of four servings of alcohol per can, as was previously the case. The amount of alcohol in containers under one litre will be limited to no more than 1.5 servings.

The move comes following the death of Athena Gervais last March. The 14-year-old Quebec teen was discovered in a stream behind her school in Laval, Que., north of Montreal.

She had allegedly consumed one or more cans of a drink called FCKD UP with an 11.9 per cent alcohol content, which at the time was sold in convenience stores in 568-ml cans for less than $4.

Under the new proposed rules, that 568-ml drink would be capped at 4.5 per cent alcohol.

The company that manufactured the drink ceased its production following her death.

The proposed amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette and will be subject to 45 days of consultations, until Feb. 5.

They could come into effect in the spring of 2019.

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