A public warning advising people not to take Red Bull mixed with alcohol nor to drink it after exercise has been issued by Sweden?s National Food Administration.
The warning follows the deaths of at least three healthy men and women, all of whom are believed to have drunk Red Bull just before they died.
Two of the victims, whose identities have not been released by the Swedish authorities, died after mixing the drink with vodka. The third died after taking several cans after a hard gym session.
One of those who died, a woman in her early thirties, collapsed in a nightclub after just two cans of the drink mixed with vodka.
Red Bull cannot be sold in stores in Norway, Denmark or France because it is classified as medicinal because of its high caffeine content. It could, however, be sold in pharmacies in those countries.
For the time being the possible health risks of the drink are unlikely to take the gloss off its incredible success. After winning the Wimbledon men?s final on Monday, there was only one drink that could keep Goran Ivanisevic and friends celebrating into the night: Red Bull. Ivanisevic?s jubilant friends bought seven cans of Red Bull and mixed it with vodka to keep them going.
The National Food Administration in Sweden confirmed yesterday that it had launched an investigation into Red Bull and other energy drinks to determine whether they were safe for consumption. Anders Glynn, from the organisation?s toxicology department and the head of the investigation, said that it would focus on the two main energy products in Red Bull ? caffeine and taurine ? and the effects of combining the two ingredients with alcohol.
Mr Glynn said: ?What we have is the suggestion that three people have died after drinking this substance, although there is no hard scientific evidence available on this yet. We will be looking at the death certificates and going through the autopspy reports to identify whether or not there is a link.?
The National Food Administration will work with a team of at least four Swedish doctors led by Dan Andersson of Stockholm?s South Hospital. At least two of the victims are believed to have been patients at the hospital.
Dr Andersson told Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish daily newspaper, that there appeared to be no proper explanation for the three deaths. ?One other doctor had one case, I had one, and there was also one other. In all three cases we suspect that the patients had been drinking Red Bull,? he said.
He gave a warning that it was particularly dangerous to take energy drinks after exercise. ?If you drink a lot of Red Bull, if you are dried out and if you mix it with alcohol it can be very dangerous,? he told the paper.
One of the victims, identified only as Therese, 31, by the Swedish press, had consumed just two cans of Red Bull when she collapsed on a dance floor in March. ?Suddenly she just fell down beside me. Her heart had stopped and she was completely lifeless,? said her boyfriend, John Andersson, who said that doctors finally gave up trying to resuscitate her after using electric shock treatment 17 times in an attempt to restart her heart.
It is not the first time that Red Bull has been blamed for health problems. Last year, Ross Cooney, 18, from Limerick, died of sudden adult death syndrome during a basketball match hours after he had consumed three cans of Red Bull. Although the inquest showed that he had thickened artery walls and had had a heart condition as a child, the coroner called for more research into the effects of Red Bull and other energy drinks.
In April a study at Dublin?s St James Hospital found that two cans of the drink caused the arteries in the body to dilate and others to stiffen.
Britain?s Food Standards Agency said it did not plan to launch an investigation into the effects of the drink.
A spokeswoman for Red Bull insisted that the energy drink was safe with a strong 14-year record of safe products. ?There had been rigorous scientific testing even before the drink came on the market,? she said.
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