Hong Kong officials 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 the amount of cocaine found in the drinks posed little health danger. The traces were between 0.1 and 0.3 micrograms of the illegal drug per litre, the statement said.
First discovered in Germany
Recently six German states have told retailers to stop selling Red Bull Cola energy drinks after a test found a trace amount of cocaine.
The bans started after a sample test conducted by authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia state found 0.4 micrograms per litre in the drink. Five other states also banned it from shops amid concerns over possible narcotics law violations.
Red Bull issues statement
However a press statement from Red Bull Cola claimed that "coca leaf extracts from which all traces of cocaine have been removed 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".
It added that an assessment commissioned by Red Bull Cola from the Austrian Belan Institute was "unable to detect any trace of cocaine, and consequently clearly contradicts the assessment furnished by the LIGA (North Rhine Westphalia Institute for Health and Labour)". They concluded that they have met the relevant local authority, the Bavarian Ministry for Environment, Health, and Consumer Protection. And "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". – (Sapa, June 2009)
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