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Red Bull pulled over additives

By Lu Nengneng (Shanghai Daily)

10:16, February 12, 2012

Some supermarkets in Shanghai have pulled Red Bull energy drinks off their shelves after illegal additives that may generate effects similar to those of psychiatric medicines were spotted on its ingredient list.

The sales suspension took place after a disturbing discovery this week by the food watchdog in northeast China's Harbin City that some ingredients printed on the drink's can are neither registered with the market supervisors nor approved for vitamin functional beverages.

The ingredients include carmine pigment and the preservative sodium benzoate. The latter, if combined with caffeine in the drink, may produce a substance considered an A-class medicine for psychiatric treatment, whose overdose could cause headache, stress, anxiety, tinnitus, tachycardia and addiction, according to doctors.

The Harbin Food and Drug Administration would not comment on the drink's safety before the results of the sample test come out in about two weeks. And no sales suspension order has been heard from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, which has put the case under close watch.

Though Red Bull's branch in China assured yesterday that its products do not contain any illegal components, the drink's potential harm to health spooked consumers and prompted some retailers in Shanghai to suspend sales.

"We have taken all the Red Bull drinks off our shelves in the city as its self-reported ingredients do not match the registered ones," said a media officer surnamed Ji at Carrefour.

"As Red Bull's statement is currently a one-sided story, we have decided to look out for the consumer's interest and stop selling," said Xiang Qun, public relations manager at Lotus supermarket in the city.

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