Origins: In May 2009, a health institute in a northern German state that had taken a sampling of Red Bull Simply Cola announced it had found a trace of cocaine in the product. While the amount they claim to have discovered was minuscule
Red Bull says the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment found the drink's ingredients posed no health risks and no risk of "undesired pharmacological effects including, any potential narcotic effects" and also claims that the beverage contains no actual cocaine but rather an extract of decocainized coca leaf. When Hong Kong officials also reported that they had found traces of cocaine in cans of Red Bull product, the company similarly disclaimed those findings:
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.
As to what's in its cola, the company says on its Simply Cola
In addition, it contains flavors derived from both the Kola nut and Coca leaf, ingredients in the original colas.
Traces of cocaine, by the way, are to be found on most of the paper currency in circulation in the U.S.
The May 2009 brouhaha over Red Bull's cola is not the first weathered by that company. Its flagship youth-focused energy drink brand, Red Bull, has been the subject of rumors that it contains an additive that causes the formation of brain tumors.
Barbara "red bull by the horns" Mikkelson
Last updated: 2 June 2009
Launder, William. "Red Bull Faces Scrutiny After Drug Test." The Wall Street Journal. 28 May 2009 (p. B8). Nipps, Emily. "Red Bull: Cola Has No Hidden Punch." St. Petersburg Times. 28 May 2009 (p. B4). Agence France Presse. "Traces of Cocaine 'Found in Red Bull' in Hong Kong." 2 June 2009. Associated Press. "Cocaine Test Prompts Red Bull Removal in Germany." 25 May 2009. UPI. "Cocaine Traces Found in Red Bull Cola." 26 May 26 2009.