Red Bull Not the Best Mixer

According to the Red Bull Web site, "Generally, you can compare its digestibility with that of coffee, and this is a good guide to the amount you can drink. It is recommended that the daily consumption…of Red Bull energy drink, should conform to a person's intake of caffeine, and this varies from person to person. The caffeine in one can of Red Bull equals that of one cup of filtered coffee."

Some think the dangers of combining energy drinks with alcohol don't pose such a great threat.

"It seems to be an urban legend," said Kevin Weissman, director of drug information at the LAC-USC Medical Center in California. "It could happen, but it's a long shot," he said.

However, Weissman suggested that those who combine energy drinks with alcohol should have greater concerns to worry about. "They should be more concerned over the impairment in their judgment. It may impair [their] reality and cause the person to think they are less drunk because they are more awake."

A Brazilian study found that college students didn't perceive themselves to be as intoxicated as they really were. The study indicated that drinking alcohol and Red Bull together significantly reduces the perception of headache, weakness, dry mouth and impairment of motor coordination.

The study also found that people who combine alcohol with energy drinks may be at even greater risk for problems such as automobile accidents because they believe they are unimpaired.

The popular myth-killing Web site Snopes.com dismisses every notion that Red Bull has been linked to deaths in Sweden and Ireland. The Web site addresses false claims that Red Bull contains a banned substance that has been previously linked to brain tumors.

Unregulated By the FDA

After Red Bull sparked some controversy regarding the deaths of three people, the Swedish National Food Administration advised consumers not to mix the drink with alcohol or consume it after exercise. France and Denmark have banned the drink.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not categorized energy drinks. The FDA can't prevent products from coming out, but can remove products from store shelves if they're found to be harmful to the consumers.

"Generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products with the FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements," FDA spokesperson Mike Herndon wrote in an e-mail.

Because energy drinks are considered dietary supplements, they're not strictly regulated by the FDA. "FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering 'conventional' foods and drug products," according to Herndon. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, Herndon added, the dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a product is safe before it is marketed.

In 2005, 2.5 billion cans of Red Bull were consumed worldwide, according to an e-mail from Patrice Radden, director of corporate communications for Red Bull. "Red Bull has been on the market for 19 years and is now sold in more than 130 countries," she said.

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