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Red Bull gives you wings, according to the energy drink company’s marketing team, but there’s little mention of bull sperm.
Still, an August 2016 Facebook post being shared again claims that Red Bull does contain such an ingredient. The post features a picture of a Red Bull can, a picture of a milky substance in a vial, and this text: "Q: Do energy drinks have bull sperm in it? Answer: Yes. A study done by longhorn cattle company tested some of the top energy drink brands (Red Bull, Monster, etc) and found that they do in fact contain bull sperm."
This post, which has been shared more than 7,200 times, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Red Bull did not respond to emails we sent asking about the post.
But according to its website, the Red Bull energy drink contains caffeine, sugar, B-group vitamins and taurine, which it describes as "an amino acid naturally occurring in the human body and present in the daily diet."
A Q&A section on the website says that the drink is "suitable for vegetarians" because it uses only non-animal ingredients. It also addresses whether taurine is made from "bull’s testicles." It’s not.
Rather, the company says, it’s produced synthetically by pharmaceutical companies without animal products. Taurine is also found in food like scallops, fish and poultry, and most infant formulas, according to the company.
In fact, taurine is in many animal tissues as well as plants. According to the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes database of medical terminology, taurine derives its name from the Latin word "taurus" for bull. It was first isolated from ox bile in 1827 by German scientists Friedrich Tiedemann and Leopold Gmelin.
Scientists have debunked the notion that energy drinks like Red Bull are made with taurine derived from animals. In July 2018, Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, wrote that while scientists originally isolated taurine from bull semen, it’s now produced synthetically.
"This compound is an ‘aminosulfonic acid’ that is widely distributed in the human body and plays a role in cardiovascular function, development of the nervous system and formation of bile acids," he says in the post. .
Schwarcz warns that excessive consumption of energy drinks should be avoided, "but not because of a concern that taurine is isolated from bull semen."
We rate this Facebook post False.
Facebook post, Aug. 25, 2016
Red Bull ingredients, visited Oct. 1, 2019
Red Bull, Is Red Bull Energy Drink suitable for vegetarians?, visited Oct. 1, 2019
Red Bull, Is taurine made from bull’s testicles?, visited Oct. 1, 2019
McGill University Office for Science and Society, Why is there a bull on the "Red Bull" logo? July 19, 2018
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, entry for Taurine [Presence] in Serum or Plasma, visited Oct. 2, 2019
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