Wellington, June 25 : The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) is worried that a Christchurch man has plans to import and sell more than 280,000 cans of an energy drink called Cocaine, despite knowing that the drink contains three-and-a-half times the legal amount of caffeine.
Geoff Allen, NZFSA director of compliance and investigation, says that Cocaine contains 280mg caffeine in each 250ml can, while the law prescribes the upper limit of 80mg per 250ml.
The authority said that they might take action against Geoff Percy, the man planning to sell the beverage, if he breached the law.
"If he hasn't used due diligence, that's his commercial decision. If it is illegal, and it sounds as though it is, we'll take the appropriate action," Stuff.co.nz quoted Allen as saying.
When Percy was told that Cocaine would breach food-safety laws, he said that he would talk with a legal team about the matter.
He even revealed that he could request Cocaine's maker, Las Vegas-based Redux beverages, to lower caffeine levels in the drink in accordance with a country's regulations.
He said that the 2.99-dollar drink would be marketed as restricted to people 18 and over, and drinkers would be urged to practise moderation.
"Look, even too much KFC or McDonald's can kill you. There are a heap of drinks out there, from colas to herbal teas, that are over the limit too," he said.
"It's all about moderation and personal responsibility. The stance we're taking is that it needs to be regulated, and that's why it's going to be R18.
"I'm confident it's going to be a hit. This has three times the amount of caffeine than Red Bull, and people only have to have one not three. Why put so much fluid into your body?" he added.
Dr Mark Richards, a Christchurch cardiologist and the National Heart Foundation's professor of cardiovascular studies, warned that the high dose of caffeine in Cocaine might lead to rapid heart rhythms and anxiety.
"Generally, you'd be setting people up for jitteriness, anxiety, a bit of tremor and increased heart rate. There is probably a sub-set of people who are vulnerable to changes in heart rhythm and over-rapid racing rhythms that might be triggered by a dose of that amount," he said.
"It seems a little excessive and unnecessary. Most young people will come to no harm from having a big slug of caffeine like that but it's going to be an unpleasant experience for some," he added.