All sorts of people don't like Red Bull. Carbonated soft-drink fans (and many others) hate its awful taste. Nutritionists believe it's akin to poison. And there are a whole lot of people over 18 years old who just — well, don't like it.
But the energy-drink king probably has no bigger enemy than provincial authorities in Maharashtra, a state in India, who claim to have confiscated 1.6 million cans of the drink because it has too much caffeine, a level of between 250 parts per million and 300 parts per million. Apparently there is some confusion about how much caffeine caffeinated drinks sold in India can provide.
India's federal law provides for no more than 145ppm in carbonated beverages such as energy drinks — but also exempts energy drinks per se because, for some reason, they are classified as food items rather than carbonated beverages.
And if you think you're confused, put yourself in the place of the local gendarmes who apparently paid attention to only one part of the law by seizing Red Bull.
"Manufacturers claim it's an energy drink and not a carbonated drink," Mahesh Zagade, commissioner of the Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration, told FoodNavigator-Asia.com. "But when you open a Red Bull can, there's fizz and it contains carbon dioxide. We are preparing for legal battle."
Red Bull India told the publication that it, too, is girded for engagement. "We are surprised by the recent approach" of the regional authorities, Red Bull said, "as it appears to be in conflict with that of the Indian national authorities." There was a similar incident two years ago in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, presumably in Maharashtra, a whole bunch of Red Bull is losing fizz every second — even while its current India campaign, at top, has attracted more than one million views on YouTube by highlighting the type of sycophantic individuals (called "chamchas" locally) the company feels it must be up against as it battles bureaucrats.