AUSTRIA: Red Bull cocaine backlash grows
Several countries have said that they are examining cans of Red Bull drinks for traces of cocaine, as the Austria-based energy drinks group attempts to stem a growing backlash against its products.
Red Bull products have this week been pulled from shelves in Hong Kong following authorities' concerns over cocaine traces in the drinks, according to a report by China's state media agency, Xinhua.
Elsewhere, several other countries are investigating Red Bull drinks for traces of cocaine. According to local reports, Red Bull is being tested in South Korea, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, while food safety officials in the Philippines have told consumers to avoid Red Bull drinks until an investigation is complete.
The moves indicate that Red Bull faces a growing backlash after researchers in Germany said that they had found traces of cocaine in the group's Simply Cola drink.
Six German states ordered Red Bull Simply Cola to be withdrawn from sale at the end of last month. Jordan is reported to have followed the German lead and ordered all Red Bull drinks pulled from shop shelves in the country.
Red Bull Simply Cola contains de-cocainised coca leaf extracts.
Red Bull launched a vehement defence of its drinks in Hong Kong this week. "The Hong Kong authorities appear to be confused," it said in a statement to just-drinks, adding: "They picked up concerns in Germany about an entirely different product that is not even available in Hong Kong or any other Asian market - Red Bull Simply Cola (and not energy drink)."
The energy drinks maker said: "Some German authorities had raised concerns regarding this very different product Red Bull Simply Cola, due to the use of a decocainised coca leaf extract in that product. Decocainised coca leaf extracts are used as flavouring in foodstuffs around the world and have long been considered to be safe."
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