Europe Attempts to Clip Red Bulls Wings

August 20, 2001

3 Min Read
Europe Attempts to Clip Red Bulls Wings

Europe Attempts to Clip Red Bulls Wings

VIENNA--Red Bull--a high energy drink containing amino acidsand a high caffeine content--may be associated with three deaths in otherwisehealthy people. According to the July 13 United Kingdom (U.K.) newspaper, TheDaily Telegraph, Sweden was prompted by these fatalities to issue a publicwarning against mixing Red Bull with alcohol or exercise.

The 8.3-oz. drink contains taurine, glucuronolactone, vitamins B12 and B6,and 80 mg of caffeine, which is twice that found in a similar serving ofMountain Dew. Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz first introduced the drink to Europein 1987, basing his formula on T.C. Pharmaceuticals Thai tonic, Krating Daeng.In fact, Mateschitz received the international rights to market Krating Daeng asRed Bull in exchange for giving T.C. Pharmaceuticals a 51-percent stake in thenew Red Bull GmBH. According to the Bangkok Post, Red Bull reportedlyraked in a profit of $700 million in 1999.

Sweden issued its warning following three people who died after drinking thebeverage. According to the Telegraph, two apparently healthy people diedafter drinking a vodka-Red Bull combo; the third person died after consumingthree Red Bulls following a workout.

This follows an April 5 article in the U.K.s The Mirror, whichsuggested that numerous European countries, are also considering a ban on thehigh energy drink. The U.K.s Advertising Standards Authority also got intothe act earlier this year by banning Red Bulls ads claiming the drink couldimprove concentration and endurance. The Mirror also stated that Norwayhas classified the drink as a medicine because of its high caffeine content. Aban has already been instituted in France against the drink, but Red Bull iscurrently contesting this ban in the European courts.

Even countries on the other side of the world are voicing concerns. TheAustralian New Zealand Food Authority stated that it had banned Red Bull frombeing produced in Australia; however, it can be produced in New Zealand, whereit is regulated as a dietary supplement.

According to Red Bulls Web site (, the company has adifferent take on countries regulatory actions. Red Bull has never beenbanned, though sometimes it hasn't been authorized, the site stated. Ittakes a lot of time to get a completely new product, with special ingredients ina complex composition, through all the official channels. The site had nomention of the alleged ill effects of this product, other than it has been examinedand reported on by experts in the fields of toxicology, internal medicine,psychiatry, neurology and sports medicine.

Recently, the company has moved from marketing itself as a vodka-mixer tobeing an energy enhancer for sports enthusiasts. In fact, the company sponsorsseveral athletes and underwrites various sporting events. In view of theserecent findings, this marketing strategy may be ill-suited for the drink. ConradEarnest, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist for the CooperInstitute for AerobicsResearch, stated that the high amount of caffeine found in Red Bull may have thesame effects as an ephedra/caffeine combination, which has been allegedly beenpinpointed behind numerous strokes and deaths. Within reason, caffeine isokay to consume before exercise, such as drinking a cup of coffee, Earnestexplained. However, in exorbitant amounts, your nervous system getsover-taxed, potentially leading to adverse events.

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