Popular energy drink Red Bull was withdrawn from supermarkets in Hong Kong, after the country's Department of Health and Centre for Food Safety found traces of cocaine in the product, the agency reported.
Although the amounts of cocaine found in Red Bull Cola, Red Bull Sugar-free and Red Bull Energy Drink tests were reportedly below dangerous levels for health (from 0.1 to 0.3 micrograms) the drinks were removed on Monday.
We are now seeking legal advice on the possible legal liability of various parties including importers and retailers,” Commissioner for Narcotics Sally Wong said in a news release by the government. “While the major supermarket chains have already taken the products off their shelves, importers and other retailers may wish to stop selling such products from now, as a precautionary measure.”
Red Bull denied the safety agency’s claims, saying the company found no cocaine in its own tests. However it wasn't clear if its samples were the same samples used by the Hong Kong agency. Red Bull expected the Hong Kong authorities to recognize their error soon, said Daniel Beatty, Red Bull's Asia Pacific marketing director in a statement on Tuesday.
Further tests of more samples of the drink executed on Tuesday found no cocaine, according to a Hong Kong government statement released later Tuesday. The government says it will attempt to find out if the findings are a systematic issue or if they are related to any particular lot or serial number.
On May 30, Taiwan confiscated 17,165 cases of Red Bull energy drink after its Department of Health found the energy drink tested had traces of cocaine.