by Marion Nestle
May 28 2009

The latest from Red Bull: Cocaine!

According to Time online, advertising for the sports drink Red Bull Cola made officials in Germany so suspicious that they did a little testing.  Ach du himmel!  Traces of cocaine.  No wonder guys like it so much.

Here is the ingredient list: Water, Sugar, Carbon Dioxide, Caramel Color, Natural Flavors from Plant Extracts (Galangal, Vanilla, Mustard Seed, Lime, Kola Nut, Cacao, Licorice, Cinnamon, Lemon, Ginger, Cocoa Leaf, Orange, Corn Mint, Pine, Cardamom, Mace, Clove), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Caffeine from Coffee Beans.  With these, you get 130 calories, virtually all from sugar, and some unstated amount of caffeine – along with some other no longer quite so secret ingredients, apparently.

Yum.

Update June 5: European regulatory authorities think this is a non-issue and plan no action.

  • Jon

    Patron: I’ll have a Coke.
    Bartender: Will that be with your Red Bull?

    You forgot the added vitamins. Red Bull is fortified with calcium pantothenate, niacinamide, riboflavin, pyridoxine HCl, and cyanocobalamin. All supplemental vitamins.

    Given that nothing in the stated ingredients actually makes you stay up all night, I figured there had to be something. Here I was expecting crystal meth.

  • Anthro

    This is absolutely bizzare! While I have no love for the people who make such useless products, surely they did not intentionally add cocaine? What IS going on here? Is “cocoa leaf” meant to be “coca leaf”?

  • Frank

    This is dumb. Someone read “cocoa leaf” and thought it said “coca leaf” and got all excited. There’s no cocaine in Red Bull, silly. You just don’t know how to read.

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  • Greg

    Uh, Frank, did you have a look at the article referenced in the post?

    The one in which it was reported that German scientists actually found trace amounts of cocaine in the product? That’s actually the whole point of this post…silly.

  • Lee

    Totally crazy! Thanks for the great, informative post. How is it possible? Does some chemical reaction of the other ingredients make cocaine? Wild.

  • So, they just didn’t choose to list the cocaine or does it just spontaneously arise from that list of god awful ingredients? Man. No surprise but…man.

  • Cathy Richards

    There’s a few bigger reasons to avoid Red Bull other than the extremely small amounts of inactive coca leaf components. Like the 8 teaspoons of sugar.

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  • Wow – they are just getting everyone hooked, like coca cola did a while back, then will enjoy the longevity and esteem of a royal beverage empire. When I went to Paris, it was banned! I was like, you can chain smoke 800 cigarettes, but no red bull. Guess the French tipped off the Germans…

  • daisy

    lol all ya are silly redbull has no kind of drug chemical in it…..i drink redbull everyday….and had one the night before and the morning of my drug test for my job….i passed with flying colors….so there!!!!that should proove redbull does not have any illegal substance in it…..have a good day children….do not fight over this stupidity no more….love each other….lol