Starbucks denies use of ephedrine in tea

Associated Press
Tuesday September 11, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Starbucks Corp. has released a statement denying that the company added the stimulant ephedrine to its tea products without warning consumers. 

The Seattle-based coffee company was sued last week in Los Angeles Superior Court by a group that claimed the chemical was placed in Starbucks’ Tazo Chai Tea product without approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Starbucks officials said that as a matter of policy it normally does not comment on pending litigation, but felt that it was important for customers to know that ephedrine has never been used as an ingredient in Tazo’s Chai Tea or any other Tazo product. 

“We have tested Chai Tea for the presence of ephedrine and the results have been conclusively negative,” the statement obtained Monday said. “There is no basis for the claims raised by the plaintiff and we intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit.” 

The 20-page suit sought an injunction barring use of the additive and did not seek cash damages. 

Ephedrine has been used by dieters to increase metabolism and is popular with athletes because it can increase performance. It also is used to treat asthmatics. The stimulant, however, has been linked to strokes and heart attack, and is blamed for the deaths this year of several college football players. 

The lawsuit was filed by the newly formed Berkeley-based Council for Education and Research on Toxics.