Red Bull has moved to calm public fears following the discovery of traces of cocaine in its cola drink in Germany.

Late last week, the German Nordrhein-Westfalen Institute of Health and Work raised concerns with German authorities regarding the inclusion of de-cocainised coca leaf extract in Red Bull Simply Cola. The discovery led to six German states instructing retailers to pull Simply Cola from its shelves, with another five states also issuing a ban.

"Although only de-cocainised coca leaf extracts are used in Red Bull Simply Cola, we take the German authority's concerns seriously and had our product analysed by an independent accredited institute which has confirmed that alkaloids (cocaine) from the coca leaf are not detectable in our product," the company said yesterday (26 May).

"The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) confirmed publicly that the ingredients contained in Red Bull Simply Cola present no risk to human health and no risk of any undesired pharmacological effects including any potential narcotic effects."

When contacted by just-drinks, a spokesperson for Red Bull at its head office in Austria said: "To clear up any concerns, we met the relevant local authority, the Bavarian Ministry for Environment, Health, and Consumer Protection, on Monday. 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."

Earlier this year, Red Bull posted a 7.9% increase in year-on-year sales, thanks in part to the launch of Red Bull Simply Cola last April.