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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Germans Ban Red Bull, Problems in Hong Kong

UPDATE: Here's a 2007 article about Red Bull, the writer encourages, as I do, label reading.
REPOSTED from 5/26/09
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UPDATE: Cocaine again found in Red Bull
Traces of cocaine 'found in Red Bull' in Hong Kong Tue Jun 2, 4:49 am ET

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong officials say they have found traces of cocaine in cans of Red Bull, a few days after Taiwanese authorities confiscated close to 18,000 cases of the popular energy drink.

Officials at the Centre for Food Safety said a laboratory analysis found tiny amounts of the illegal drug in samples of "Red Bull Cola," "Red Bull Sugar-free" and "Red Bull Energy Drink", a spokesman said.

The drink has now been taken off the shelves of major supermarkets, the spokesman said in a statement issued late Monday. He added that the amount of cocaine found in the drinks posed little health danger.

Red Bull moved quickly to deny the findings and said independent tests on the same batch of drinks had found no traces of cocaine.

The Centre for Food Safety found traces of cocaine between 0.1 and 0.3 micrograms of the illegal drug per litre, the statement said.

Hong Kong's commissioner for narcotics, Sally Wong, said the government was now taking legal advice on any possible liability for importers and retailers.

"Cocaine is a dangerous drug... The possession and dealing in the drug is a criminal offence," she said in the statement.

Red Bull's Asia Pacific marketing director, Daniel Beatty, said the firm strongly disputed the findings.

"It would have been absolutely impossible for the Hong Kong or any other authorities to have found traces of cocaine in Red Bull Energy Drink," he said in a statement.

"We expect the Hong Kong authorities to recognize their error soon," he said, adding the firm's representatives were already meeting with Taiwanese authorities to point out the error.

Taiwan officials said Saturday they had confiscated nearly 18,000 cases of Red Bull imported from Austria after finding it contained traces of the drug.

Taiwanese authorities ordered the drinks to be removed from shelves pending further investigation.

Red Bull, whose advertising slogan is "Red Bull gives you wings," was founded by Austrian toothpaste salesman Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.

It has since become one of the dominant players in the global energy drinks market.

UPDATE: Red Bull responds to German Cola concerns
Santa Monica, Calif., (May 26, 2009)--After analyzing a single can of Red Bull Simply Cola, the German Nordrhein-Westfalen Institute of Health and Work, raised concerns with German authorities regarding the inclusion of de-cocainized coca leaf extract in the product. READ ARTICLE

Remember that cola drinks in aluminum cans cause a reaction that can impact bone health. Low cal drinks with aspartame promote exhaustion, diabetes, and other health problems.
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Germans Ban Red Bull; Similar Move in U.S. Could Create $1.5 Billion Void in Energy Drink Market

May 26, 2009

Red Bull, the top-selling energy beverage in the United States and a drink that was banned in France until 2008, has now been pulled off retail shelves in Germany after researchers found trace amounts of cocaine in the drink. Food safety officials in the North Rhine-Westphalia state found 0.4 micrograms of cocaine per liter during routine testing of the beverage.

“The institute examined Red Bull Cola in an elaborate chemical process and found traces of cocaine,” said Bernhard Kuehnle, head of the food safety department within Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The ministry said that the amount of cocaine found in the drink did not pose a threat to public safety, but five other German states also banned the drink over concerns about drug content.

Red Bull refuted the claims in a public statement. “Decocainised coca leaf extracts are used as flavoring in foodstuffs around the world and are considered to be safe,” the company said. “Red Bull Cola and other foodstuff containing such extracts may therefore be sold legally.” Other tests commissioned by the company found no cocaine in the beverage. Red Bull awaits a more detailed report from Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment on May 27.

The German ban follows stepped up efforts by U.S. legislators to ensure that energy beverages sold domestically are safe for consumption, especially by children. It also comes on the heels of multiple examples of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration increasing its enforcement of food, beverage and dietary supplement legislation. So it goes without saying that regulatory officials here in the United States, as well as some of the company’s top competitors, will anxiously await the conclusion of Red Bull vs. Germany.

Hypothetically, if Red Bull were to be banned in the United States, the move would immediately create a large void in the energy beverage market. U.S. consumers spent $1.5 billion on Red Bull beverages in 2007, according to Nutrition Business Journal estimates. The popular brand accounted for 32% of all energy beverage sales in the United States in 2007. Total energy drink sales grew 25% to $4.6 billion in 2007. Red Bull’s largest competitor is Hansen Beverage Co., manufacturer of the Monster Energy drink.

Related stories:
Energy Drinks Take a Hit in the Press Reports “Caffeine Intoxication” On The Rise
Healthy Energy Rounds First; Natural Sports Drinks Up To Bat


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