The Food and Drug Administration yesterday put a hold and general recall on Red Bull energy drink amid evidence that Red Bull has been linked to several birth defects – principally resulting in the emergence of wing-like growths on the backs of newborn children.
The unusual side effects, which occur in as many as 2% of women who drink Red Bull while pregnant, were first reported by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, who used a study group of over 800 women over a course of 3 years. The researcher’s results were published last fall, but the FDA and Red Bull executives had until yesterday been resistant to acknowledge the group’s findings. Now with the FDA seeming to validate the researcher’s claims that “Red Bull directly contributes to leathery, bat-like appendages which grow out from the child’s shoulder blades”, Red Bull is scrambling to prepare for huge losses and numerous lawsuits.
“Red Bull is disappointed with the FDA’s action, and does not think that such action was necessary,” said Red Bull spokesman Tyler Cowell in a prepared statement. “Our company has acted responsibly and will continue to act responsibly.”
Public outcry over the Red Bull energy drink’s side effects has been understandably high. Red Bull, which has cornered half of the energy drink market in the United States (and is large outside of the country as well), “has a clientele that is both numerous, and heavily caffeinated,” said Yale Law Professor Laura Bernard. “This is a pretty good recipe for a lawsuit storm.”
“The fact that the FDA approved this product in the first place will likely also have repercussions,” continued Bernard. “This is going to be blow up huge, and take a lot of people down with it.”
Gavin Tyson, an FDA lawyer, disagrees.
“There is no basis for a lawsuit, because there are no damages,” explained Tyson. “So far the only allegations are that this product gives children wings. Have you ever met a child who did NOT want wings?”
Bernard, however, is not convinced that Tyson’s argument will hold up in court. “Children as a rule want to fly – flying is the whole point, not the wings,” said Bernard. “As of yet, none of the children who have been born with these wings have succeeded in achieving flight. Until they do, I think the Red Bull is going to get sued, and I think that the FDA is going to get sued for approving the product. And they are both going to lose.”
There are signs that Red Bull executives privately agree with Bernard, and may believe that they are indeed vulnerable from a legal standpoint. According to several inside sources, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Red Bull has this last week alone spent fifteen million dollars in research and tests.
“The purpose of these experiments is principally concerned with creating stronger wings that will allow a child to become airborne” said one source. “We’re hoping to achieve a flying child long before this thing reaches the courts.”