FINALLY! Caffeine Regulations I can SUPPORT!

According to an article by Nutritional Outlook, six senators are urging the FDA to immediately ban the marketing and retail sale of pure caffeine. This is the FIRST caffeine regulation I can really get behind, and here’s why:

This proposal addresses a legitimate safety issue; unlike some of the proposed energy drink bans, regulations to ban the sale of pure caffeine are a necessary step toward ensuring safe caffeine consumption.

Now, before you jump up and down with all the reasons you think energy drink bans are good, let me just say this: V8 V-Fusion has 80 mg of caffeine from green tea. This is an energy drink, but would you have a problem letting a 12 year old drink it? V8’s energy drink has the same amount of caffeine as an 8 ounce Red Bull, but they both that LESS CAFFEINE (and potentially less sugar) than a tall mocha from Starbucks.

The rest of my arguments against energy drink regulations can be found here (“Why You Could Get Carded for Buying a V8“), here (“NY Bans Marketing of Red Bull but Misses the Bull’s Eye“),  and here (“Save Lives by Focusing on the Source of the Problem“).

Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) is one of the six senators proposing this pure caffeine ban, and I have NOT been a fan of his other caffeine regulation proposals (see “Which comes first: supplement safety laws or the power to enforce them? The Durbin-Blumenthal Dietary Supplement Labeling Act“).

But for this one time, I will stand with the Senator and support this pure caffeine ban.

Perhaps the best argument FOR this proposed ban on pure caffeine sales is the following stat:

A single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly the same amount of caffeine as 25 cups of coffee, according to FDA.


No consumer needs pure caffeine. If you’re buying pure caffeine to make your own energy drinks in your basement so you can sell them online, I am not okay with that. As a food scientist quality assurance professional, and caffeine consumer, everything about that situation scares me.

Dear FDA, I know you’re under-staffed, under-appreciated and over-worked, and I know you’ve got your hands full with the necessary FSMA regulations. But can you do us all a favor and please, please, do something (swift) about this request. It’ll make Mr. Richard Blumenthal (and Mr. Sherrod Brown) very happy.


Related Posts:

Putting Caffeine in Gum is a BAD IDEA, here’s why…

Friends with the Monster? Three Crucial Counterpoints to the Energy Drink Debate

Steaz Logo Close Up

Energy Drink of the Month — Jan 2015

Do you believe in destiny? I’m not talking about “That wizard came from the moon” Destiny; I’m talking about strange coincidences that catch you by surprise and make you smile. This month’s pick happens to be the source of such a surprising coincidence. It’s a product I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, but was waiting for the right opportunity. Little did I know the stars would align when that opportunity came along.

The Energy Drink of the Month for January 2015 is Steaz Blueberry Pomegranate Organic Iced Green Tea.

Steaz Organic Blueberry Pomegranate Iced Tea Energy Drink of the Month

Steaz Organic Blueberry Pomegranate Iced Tea Energy Drink of the Month


Other flavors are available, but I’m always a sucker for the blueberry and pomegranate flavors. Steaz also makes an unsweetened iced tea, but I prefer a little sweetness to cover the bitter tannin tea notes.

NOTE – this product only has about 15 milligrams of caffeine, so it’s a very weak energy drink, Fatigue Level 1 for sure. Steaz also has an energy drink line (100 mg caffeine per 12 oz can), but I’m not a huge fan of their energy drink line and I’ll explain why later.



5 Reasons to Love Steaz Iced Green Tea

ONE- When the Stars Align

Aside from being a potentially great tattoo or necklace charm, the Steaz logo has an intriguing story. See for yourself.

Steaz LogoSince I write the Energy Drink of the Month blogs the weekend before the 13th, I just happened to be watching the NFL Division Playoffs all weekend. That’s when I saw it:

Three quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs are #12!!!

Three quarterbacks in the NFL 2014-15 playoffs are #12!!! From

Since three of the four quarterbacks playing for a spot in Superbowl XLIX wear number 12, I find the significance of number twelve in the Steaz logo highly amusing. But there are other, more significant reasons to like Steaz.

TWO-Green Tea-based Beverages

Chemically speaking, caffeine is caffeine is caffeine. The molecule itself and the effect this molecule has on the body does not change based on the source of that molecule. However, there are “food matrix effects” that can have their own influence on the body. Think of all those little creatures that attach themselves to sharks and whales. Like the shark, certain molecules don’t just float around all by themselves, they form attachments to other molecules, which can change the behavior of each. This is one reason it’s so hard to prove the health benefits of antioxidants – take them out of a food and it’s rare to see the same physiological effect. Eating concentrated blueberry powder is just not the same as eating whole raw blueberries.

The food matrix effect is why I prefer to get my caffeine from green tea. Of course, coffee provides a plethora of health benefits, but tea is the second healthiest beverage on the planet, second only to water. The health benefits of coffee and tea are beyond the scope of this post, but you can learn more about these health benefits and read the “Coffee Vs. Tea” comparison in the Energy Drink Guide.

THREE-Organic, Natural Ingredients

FACT: Every ingredient put into a food or beverage product must be GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”) or an approved dietary additive. I don’t believe a lot of the fear-campaigns about artificial ingredients, but I choose to limit them in my diet. Steaz does not use artificial ingredients, which earns them a point.

FOUR-Body, Mind, and Soul

FairTrade SteazySometimes when I travel for work, my options for caffeine are limited, and I feel compelled to say an apology to my body for what I’m about to put in it. I hate when the only energy drinks available are the super-sugary ones, or when the only freggie smoothies available have more sugar than a half-pint of ice cream.  I feel good when I drink Steaz, not just because of its ingredients, but because of the company’s commitment to its farmers, its CO2 footprint, and to Fair Trade.


FIVE-Flavor and Sugar

Steaz Nutrition Facts and IngredientsI can’t deny my sweet tooth, but I try to limit added sugars wherever and whenever I can. I don’t like to drink my calories, unless it’s a protein shake for breakfast en route to the gym. The blueberry pomegranate iced tea product has only 10 grams of sugar per serving, or 20 grams of sugar per can. That’s the perfect range for me, just enough sugar to make it enjoyable to drink, but not so much sugar I feel guilty about it. Plus, I make it a point to never finish a whole can in one sitting.


The Less-Than-Stellar Side of Steaz

There’s a reason why “marketeers” and food scientists can’t always get along. Marketing will want to say what the consumers want to hear, and scientists often don’t speak the same language as everybody else. Now if we could all just embrace a little more science (and the metric system?), what a wonderful world it would be.

ISSUE A: Steaz energy drinks have 23 grams of sugar per 8 ounces. For a lot of consumers, that’s too much. There is a zero-sugar energy drink, but I have yet to find it anywhere I’ve found the other Steaz teas. When I’m anything more than Fatigue Level 1, the Steaz teas aren’t going to cut it.

ISSUE B: Meaningless marketing claims drive me crazy! “Clean energy”? Just say “sustainably sourced”. As a Quality Assurance professional for a billion-dollar supplement line, I’ve rejected too many green tea leaf powders for heavy metal and food micro issues to swallow the “clean” claim. Sustainability means much more to me, and I can’t be the only consumer who feels this way.

Chemical Free with IL

ISSUE C: Fear-mongering marketing claims also drive me crazy. “Chemical free”? Everything in the Ingredient Line has a chemical bond, and doesn’t Sodium Citrate sound like a chemical to most people? Spreading fear of chemicals is a slippery slope that puts the emphasis on the wrong arguments. A claim like “no artificial ingredients” seems much more meaningful to the average consumer. (related post: Fear and FACTS)


If finding healthier sources of energy is part of your New Year’s Resolutions, give Steaz a try. Oh, and don’t be afraid of “chemicals” because your entire body is naturally comprised of them.

Green-Eyed Guide

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Healthy Energy Drinks — Is Organic or All-Natural Really Better? By Caffeine Informer

Steaz About Us

Steaz FAQ – including caffeine amounts, store locator, ingredient concerns and more

Caffeine Pop Quiz — YouTube

How to Spot a Bad Product – 5 Signs

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Energy Drink of the Month — December 2014

I am writing this in a car. Seriously. Remember when you were a kid and December meant a few weeks off school? Then you get a job and December means all your weekends are booked. Solid. Of course, your downtime and stress level vary by your religion, the size of your your family, the proximity of your home to your work, and other things. It is this crazy level of business that inspired my pick for this month.

The Energy Drink* of the Month for December 2014 is Mio Energy.

*Technically this is not an energy drink, nor is it a shot. Consuming this as-is would be a horrible idea, and is strongly discouraged. Small enough to fit into a purse or a large pocket, this is THE essential holiday tool to help you keep your energy level up through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This portability is why Mio wins December.

5 Fast Facts About Mio Energy

ONE– Mio Energy is only a few ounces more then the most popular energy shot, but instead of 2 servings, you get almost 20. You’re supposed to add it to water, so if you’re smart about your squirts, you can make one Mio container last a whole month (which is exactly how long you’re advised to keep it once it’s been opened).


TWO– Mio Energy features no ordinary caffeine warning label. Like other energy shots and drinks, Mio warns the consumer about using caffeine in moderation, and drops the novel idea of talking to a doctor if you’re pregnant. But then Mio goes one step further. I applaud Mio for specifying that the product is not to be combined with alcohol. Combining alcohol and caffeine is another awful idea, and it’s one of the reasons energy drinks get reported as more dangerous than they truly are (See the DAWN Report — Energy Drinks and the ER). It’s also interesting that the Mio warning label specifies “For Adult Use Only” because other energy companies have been accused of marketing to kids and teens. Mio is watching its back. It’s worth noting:

…the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a caffeine limit of 100 milligrams per day for adolescents…Canada’s caffeine recommendations are even more strict: the daily limit is 60 milligrams for 7-9 year olds and 85 milligrams for 10-12 year olds. Health Canada recommended 400 milligrams per day as the maximum dosage considered safe for ages 13 and up. — Excerpt from Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely. (available here)


THREE– Mio doesn’t exactly have a clean label, but what do you expect from something that’s the flavor of “Green Thunder”? Now don’t panic when you read the label. Don’t avoid any ingredients out of fear; get the FACTS first. In Mio Energy’s case, most of the ingredients are either vitamins or extracts associated with ergogenics. It takes a few ingredients to preserve this wonderful caffeine concoction, one or two to make it that gorgeous green color I love so much, and another one or two to keep the whole thing homogenous. Since caffeine, guarana and B-vitamins can taste bitter on their own, it also helps to have a few sweeteners in the mix.


FOUR– Mio means “mine” in Italian and Spanish, and it’s precisely this customization that Mio was intended for. Mio represents innovation, from the name to the size to the method of launching the product. If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes strategy, I highly recommend this article:


FIVE– Mio is simultaneously one of the safest and most dangerous energy product available. How is this possible? Consumer responsibility. As Caffeine Informer points out, Mio contains 60mg caffeine per 0.5 teaspoon (the recommended dosage), or 1,080mg caffeine per bottle. Some will say, “now who would be silly enough to try to consume the whole container at once?” And yet, I have asked myself that same question about those 20 oz energy drinks, and THERE ARE people who consume that in one sitting. Caffeine safety IS a matter of product design, but it is also a matter of personal responsibility.

Please enjoy. Responsibly. Happy Holidays!

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Mio Resources

* FAQs
* MIO on Facebook
* Make It Mio page