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Fact check: Red Bull does not contain bull sperm

Social media users have been sharing posts resurfacing the claim that the taurine used in Red Bull is made from bull sperm. However, Red Bull has confirmed that this is not true.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

A post from January 2016 (here) is being shared around by social media users in late November 2020 (here , here , here). The post contains five pictures, one of which shows a question posted on a website “Do energy drinks have bull sperm in it?” where the answer below says, “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.”

The other photos show the ingredients on the back of a Red Bull can with the word “Taurine” circled; a picture of a bull with its penis strapped into a contraption with the words “The process of preparing RED BULL” in Russian underneath; a photo of a Red Bull can; and a photo of a bottle containing a cream-coloured substance with an illegible label.

Posts with the same photos have been spreading on social media for many years, as seen in these posts shared thousands of times in 2015 and 2016 (here , here).

Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that is found naturally in humans and other mammals in the brain, heart, blood and retina. It has various important functions in the body. The main dietary sources of taurine are meat, fish, dairy products and it is also added to energy drinks (here , here , here).

Red Bull confirms on its website that Red Bull does contain taurine but the taurine is not made from bull’s testicles. “The taurine in Red Bull is not derived from animals. It is produced synthetically by pharmaceutical companies,” it says (here).

The name taurine is derived from the Latin “tauras”, which means bull or ox, because it was first isolated from ox bile in 1827 by German scientists Friedrich Tiedemann and Leopold Gmelin (here , here , loinc.org/2980-1/). Joe Schwartz, the Director of McGill university’s “Office for Science and Society” explains that while taurine was originally isolated from bull semen it is now produced synthetically (here).

VERDICT

False. Red Bull confirmed that the taurine in Red Bull is produced synthetically by pharmaceutical companies.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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