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Taiwan recalls Red Bull drink after discovering mild cocaine traces
Taiwan News, Staff Writer , Central News Agency
2009-05-31 05:29 PM
The Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH) ordered an importer Saturday to recall an energy drink imported from Austria after discovering trace amounts of cocaine in the product, and said people should not drink the beverage.

According to a statement from the department, the DOH decided to test the imported Red Bull Energy Drink based on reports from Germany that a different cola drink made by the same manufacturer was found to contain 0.4 micrograms of cocaine per liter.

The DOH results found that the energy drink it tested contains just 0.03 parts per billion of cocaine, the statement said.

The DOH has told the relevant authorities to have the product removed from store shelves, the statement went on, noting that the law prohibits any traces whatsoever of banned drugs in food products.

Meanwhile that day, the Investigation Bureau seized 17,165 cases of Red Bull Energy Drink from warehouses of the product's importer, the Taipei-based Nanlien International Corp.

The manufacturer issued a press release claiming their innocence on Sunday. The corporation said that prosecutors are misguided and will file legal lawsuits to defend its reputation. The plan to start the sale of energy beverage in convenience stores beginning June 1 is forced to be suspended after the DOH call of product removal off shelves and seizure of its goods in stock.

The bureau said in its statement that the value of the seized product is more than NT$25 million, with each can retailing at between NT$50 and NT$65.

The energy drink is often sold as a mixer for vodka at clubs and bars, according to the bureau.

A toxicology expert said that the mild traces of cocaine found in the drink will not cause harm to human body or lead to cocaine addiction. Death is only possible when a person drinks 700,000 liters of Red Bull at one time.

According to the foreign media reports, the German authorities notified retailers to stop selling Red Bull Cola after the cocaine traces were discovered.

Coming from Austria, the Red Bull Energy Drink is on sale in 130 countries, with 3.5 billion cans sold worldwide in 2008.

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