The French government has banned an artichoke juice drink on the basis that it could encourage drink driving.
The drink, called Security Feel Better and made mainly of artichoke juice, was at first allowed onto the shelves. But the government has now decided the drink should be banned and ordered its removal from sale. It has said it cannot prevent the drink’s export.
Security Feel Better appeared on the market with the unique selling proposition that it disperses alcohol from the blood up to six times faster than normal.
Its effectiveness has not been clinically proven and a Normandy court has already prohibited the producer – Normandy-based PPN – from displaying any claims on the label.
In trials carried out by PPN, a company spokeswoman said, a man who drank a whisky followed by a whole bottle of wine and a liqueur gave a reading of 187mg before taking Security Feel Better, but 80mg only 40 minutes later.
French supermarket Auchan unilaterally discontinued sales after carrying out its own tests, but the product is on sale in other supermarkets and is being exported to Korea, Germany and Switzerland. American and – possibly – UK launches are planned.
The drink, which comes in 30ml bottles, is made of plant extracts with the key ingredient being artichokes, which according to PPN can stimulate liver renewal.
Medical experts are sceptical about the claims. ‘The liver processes alcohol from the body at the rate of one unit an hour. At the moment I do not know of any substance that can increase that rate of metabolism,’ Dr Guy Ratcliffe of the Medical Council on Alcohol told the Daily Mail.
UK motoring safety organisations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have also expressed fears that anything which professes to get alcohol quickly out of the body could lead people to believe they could drink and drive.
Written by Adam Lechmere, and Susana Maximo