The drink, which has its origins in Las Vegas, Nevada, contains three times as much caffeine as its competitor Red Bull, a level high enough to cause mild caffeine poisoning, according to the agency.
“We haven’t got hold of any cans yet but we have looked at the ingredients on a number of websites,” said agency toxicologist Emma Halldin Ankarberg.
“The name is definitely questionable,” she added.
Nowhere on the can does Cocaine flag the fact that it contains 1,120 milligrammes of caffeine per litre, or 280 mg per can, placing it in clear contravention of an EU directive requiring the use of warning labels on drinks that contain more than 150 mg per litre.
The owner of the company behind the brand, made no excuses for selling a drink with a logo that spells out the word Cocaine in powdery white lines. James Kirby said he expected from the outset that the energy drink would attract the opprobrium of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a development that would impact positively on sales.
“It’s hilarious. We knew it from the beginning,” he told the Las Vegas Sun in a 2007 interview. “Our whole intention was to ride the controversy. We said it would help us sell drinks.”
With the FDA furious that Kirby was openly branding the drink a “legal alternative” to the outlawed stimulant of the same name, convenience store 7-Eleven urged its franchisers not to stock the drink. But Kirby claimed a number of store owners ignored the plea and continued to feed the growing demand.
“Under the counter and out of the back door, just like real drugs. I couldn’t have architected it better,” he said.