Re: The Caffeine Database
Red Bullâs high caffeine content, combined with other ingredients, gives people who drink the beverage quite the kick.
But Red Bull has been flagged by some health regulators as a potential danger.
It was recently approved for sale in Canada â although its label must carry several warnings for consumers. And Marketplace has discovered those warnings are being ignored.
Red Bull is an energy drink thatâs suddenly everywhere. Last year, people in 120 countries guzzled close to two billion cans of the trendy brew.
Developed in Austria, Red Bullâs marketing campaign promises the beverage âgives you wings.â
A popular myth claims that one of Red Bull's ingredients, taurine, is an extract from a bull's testicles. While taurine is an amino acid naturally found throughout the body, the taurine found in Red Bull is entirely synthetic.
A drink that gives you wings? That sounds pretty powerful. So what exactly is Red Bull? The makers call it an âenergy drink.â People weâve talked to describe it as âstimulating,â âaddictive,â even âcrack in a can.â
Red Bull: A tempest in a can
The label on a can of Red Bull boasts caffeine, vitamins, a carbohydrate (glucuronolactone), an amino acid (taurine), and about five teaspoons of sugar.
We tested Red Bull for those ingredients. We hired a laboratory to analyze the contents of the slender silver and blue can â and sure enough, the labelâs no bull. A 250 ml can of Red Bull contains, among other ingredients:
* 80 mg of caffeine (more than three times the caffeine thatâs in the same amount of Coke)
* 1000 mg of taurine, an amino acid
Itâs a combination the company claims will boost your energy.
That combination of ingredients in a can of Red Bull that has a lot of people talking. Thereâs no long-term research on how caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone interact in the body. That has some countries saying: âNo studies? No thank you.â
Countries like Norway, Denmark and France are so nervous about the canâs contents, theyâve banned the sale of Red Bull.
French nutritionist Isabelle Vanrullen, who works with the countryâs food safety agency, says France banned the brew because of how the ingredients in Red Bull interact:
âThere are various side effects for each one of these three substances, which vary in degrees of severity. And they can also interact with each other.â
The French health committee canned the sale of Red Bull, partly because a study found that rats fed taurine exhibited bizarre behaviour. That behaviour, says Vanrullen, included: "anxiety, irritability, a high sensitivity to noise --sudden jumps in their cages-- and most of all, self-mutilations."
Map showing France, Denmark and Norway
Red Bull is prohibited for sale as a normal soft drink in Denmark, Norway, and France. In 2001, Red Bull was investigated by the Swedish National Food Administration after being linked to three deaths.
Other countries, like Sweden and Iceland, are also concerned about Red Bullâs stampede onto the market.
Part of the concern is that Red Bull is an energy drink, but it doesnât replenish the body after physical exertion (like sports drinks such as Gatorade).
In fact, because Red Bull has so much caffeine â it can actually dehydrate the drinker. That means if youâre physically exerting yourself and drink just a Red Bull, the lack of hydration could strain your heart.
In 2000, Ross Cooney, a healthy, 18-year-old basketball player from Limerick, Ireland, collapsed on the court and died after drinking four cans of Red Bull before a basketball game.
The connection between Cooneyâs death and Red Bull remains inconclusive; a coroner's inquest found that he died as a result of Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (sudden death due to cardiac arrest brought on by an arrhythmic episode).
There have been other serious health events reported after people exerted themselves and drank Red Bull. But again, thereâs no evidence to conclude that the drink's ingredients affected peopleâs hearts.
Two people have reported serious adverse health reactions after consuming the Red Bull energy drink.
The regulator will say that Red Bull was approved for sale â with strings attached.