Red Bull wings clipped in Jordan over cocaine use

Related tags Coca-cola functional beverage beverage

Austria’s health department has confirmed that Red Bull Cola contains traces of cocaine but at levels that do not pose a public health risk but Jordan has joined a major German retailer and banned the drink.

The controversy erupted 10 days ago when the food safety agency (LIGA) in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia detected 0.4 micrograms of cocaine per litre in Red Bull Cola, a level German authorities have subsequently said also presents no public hazard.

But it did not stop the German retailer, Rewe, pulling the product from shelves in its stores in six states. Bans have also been implemented in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Jordan’s Food and Drug Administration (JFDA) said Red Bull would be pulled from shelves in the Middle Eastern nation until further investigations could verify its content and safety.

“Whenever we receive reports from any country regarding the withdrawal of a product from the market and we have it in Jordan, we do the same until we conduct the required tests,”​ the Jordanian FDA’s director, Mohammed Rawashdeh, told The Jordan Times​.

No public risk

Both the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection said the level did not pose a threat to public safety but Jordan has joined the ban and other countries are assessing their position in regard to the world’s leading energy drink.

Toxicologists have advised that a consumer would have to drink two million 250mL cans of Red Bull to imbibe enough cocaine to have an overdose.


Austria-based Red Bull has defended its use of what is commonly known as “decocainised coca leaf extract”

“Decocainised coca leaf extracts are used as flavouring in foodstuffs around the world and are considered to be safe (eg FDA Gras Status, Council of Europe). Red Bull Cola and other foodstuff containing such extracts may therefore be sold legally,” ​Red Bull said.

The energy drink giant said an assessment commissioned by the Austrian Belan Institute was unable to detect any trace of cocaine, “and consequently clearly contradicts the assessment furnished by LIGA.”

It said it met yesterday with the Bavarian Ministry for Environment, Health, and Consumer Protection.

“Based on this meeting, the Ministry has decided to officially investigate the existing examination results. In this way, we are sure that we will be able to clear up the facts very soon.”

Coca-Cola has refused to confirm or deny whether it used either regular or decocainised ​coca ​leaves in its products.

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