x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

UAE Red Bull searched for cocaine traces

Health labs are being asked to analyse the ingredients of the energy drink after trace amounts of cocaine were found elsewhere.

Consumers in the UAE have asked authorities to analyse the ingredients of Red Bull energy drinks after trace amounts of cocaine were found in the company's product in Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, Red Bull has disputed the findings, saying that it was "absolutely impossible" to find cocaine traces in Red Bull Energy Drink Thousands of cases of the popular energy drink have been seized in Hong Kong and Taiwan after authorities there found "extremely low" levels of the banned substance in it, ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 micrograms a can. Normal consumption of the drink was unlikely to cause health problems or have any psychotropic effects, the Hong Kong authorities said. The government of Jordan and several German states have also asked retailers to stop selling the drink. The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and offenders caught with trace amounts of cannabis have been given four-year prison sentences. Juma Fairouz, the chairman of the UAE Consumer Protection Society, said it had received calls from concerned consumers about Red Bull and the society had contacted the food hygiene and safety committee of the General Secretariat of the Municipality of Dubai. "They wrote a letter to the laboratories, asking them to analyse Red Bull for those substances," he said. He expected the municipality to notify the society when the tests were completed. Red Bull, based in Austria and the sponsor of the Abu Dhabi Air Race, said its drinks were free of the banned substance. An analysis by the Austrian Belan Institute concluded that Red Bull Energy Drink contained no cocaine, the company said. It said it used "de-cocainised" coca leaf extract as flavouring in one drink, Red Bull Simply Cola, sold exclusively in the US, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Russia. "It would have been absolutely impossible for the Taiwanese [or any other] authorities to have found traces of cocaine in Red Bull Energy Drink," the company's Middle East and Africa office said in a statement. Dubai Government officials said they were awaiting guidance from Abu Dhabi Municipality over whether to consider banning the popular drink. Controversy over the ingredients in Red Bull began in Germany late last month after a report of trace levels of cocaine in Red Bull Simply Cola. The company disputed the German government's findings. In a statement provided by the company's Dubai-based Middle East and Africa office, it said: "As for Red Bull Simply Cola, an assessment commissioned by Red Bull from the Austrian Belan Institute did not detect any trace of cocaine." * with additional reporting by Armina Ligaya and Praveen Menon and agencies igale@thenational.ae