UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 27, 2009

GERMAN STATES BAN RED BULL FOR TRACES OF COCA LEAF EXTRACT

Boing Boing - Six German states have banned Red Bull Cola after lab tests turned up trace amounts of coca leaf extracts in the beverage. According to authorities, the substance requires the beverage to be classified as a narcotic, requiring a license for sale. From BBC News:

(Red Bull) said coca leaf extracts were used worldwide as a natural flavoring, and that its own tests had found no traces of cocaine.

The illegal cocaine alkaloid - one of 10 found in coca and representing only 0.8% of the plant's chemical make-up - is chemically removed before use, as mandated by international anti-narcotics agencies.

"There is no scientific basis for this ban on Red Bull Cola because the levels of cocaine found are so small," Fritz Soergel, the head of the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research in Nuremberg, Bavaria, told Time magazine.

"And it's not even cocaine itself. According to the tests we carried out, it's a non-active degradation product with no effect on the body. If you start examining lots of other drinks and food so carefully, you'd find a lot of surprising things."

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