Mon, Jun 01, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Little risk of addiction from Red Bull: doctors

DEMON DRINK A toxicologist said a person with a low tolerance for cocaine would have to drink 2 million cans of Red Bull in one sitting to die from an overdose

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Drinking Red Bull Energy Drink containing slight traces of cocaine is unlikely to get a person addicted to the drug, doctors said yesterday.

On Saturday, Taipei prosecutors and agents from the Investigation Bureau seized 17,165 cases of Red Bull Energy Drink — worth about NT$25 million (US$781,000) — from importer Nanlien International Co in Taoyuan and Kaohsiung.

The National Bureau of Controlled Drugs on Thursday tested Red Bull Energy Drink and found traces of cocaine, at a concentration of 0.03mg per liter.

Cocaine is a Category 1 drug in Taiwan. Manufacturing, transporting and selling it is a criminal offense punishable by death or life imprisonment.

The energy drink contains taurine (a stimulant), caffeine and vitamins.

Doctors said that a person who consumes more than 100mg of cocaine may experience euphoria, high energy levels, increased heart rate and blood pressure, causing them to become talkative and hypersensitive.

Although the drink contains trace amounts of cocaine, at such low concentration levels, it would not pose a serious threat to a person’s health or get the person addicted, said Yang Chen-chang (楊振昌), a toxicologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

“The concentration level is very low. Even if a person drinks [Red Bull Energy Drink] on a long-term basis, the person is very unlikely to become addicted,” he said.

Yang said the average person would have to consume 1g to 2g of cocaine to die or become critically ill, while people with a low tolerance of the drug may die after consuming 20mg.

This means that people with low tolerance would have to drink 700,000 liters, or 2 million cans, in one sitting to die from an overdose.

Doctors said that people who had consumed Red Bull would have ingested cocaine at such low levels that they were unlikely to be seriously harmed as the body would naturally rid itself of the toxin through natural metabolic processes.

Individuals who feel sleepy should avoid trying to energize themselves by drinking beverages containing large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants, doctors said.

They recommend maintaining regular bedtimes, exercising, stretching and getting fresh air, which are all healthy ways to jump start energy levels without causing harm to the body.

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