authorities in six German states have ordered retailers to stop
selling Red Bull Cola energy drinks after traces of cocaine were
found in it.
recall came after a sample analysis conducted in North-Rhine
Westphalia found one litre of the drink contained 0.4 micrograms of
the banned substance.
Officials said the cocaine levels were too low to pose a health
threat but were not permitted in foodstuffs.
Bull said its cola was "harmless and marketable" in both the US and
company said coca leaf extracts were used worldwide as a natural
flavouring, and that its own tests had found no traces of cocaine.
Classified as narcotic
illegal cocaine alkaloid - one of 10 found in coca and representing
only 0.8% of the plant's chemical make-up - is chemically removed
before use, as mandated by international anti-narcotics agencies.
"There is no scientific basis for this ban on Red Bull Cola because
the levels of cocaine found are so small," Fritz Soergel, the head
of the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research in
Nuremberg, Bavaria, told Time magazine.
"And it's not even cocaine itself. According to the tests we carried
out, it's a non-active degradation product with no effect on the
body. If you start examining lots of other drinks and food so
carefully, you'd find a lot of surprising things."
the authorities in North-Rhine Westphalia said the presence of coca
leaf extracts meant the cola could not be classified as a foodstuff
but as a narcotic, which would require a special licence.
When Coca-Cola was first produced in the 19th Century, it famously
contained traces of cocaine, but has not since 1903.