5Whys of Metro Transportation

The Making of a Quality Professional

I’m the kid who put “Eat Breakfast” on her to-do list so I’d start the day with something already checked off. I love checklists and bullet-points, and what you’re about to read is a genuine enthusiasm for what I do at work. I am not fresh out of college, nor am I a seasoned professional with over twenty years in the industry.


Recently I moved from a role in Product Development to a role in Quality Assurance. This is not my first job in QA, but coming back to it after a year and a half of working on dry powder protein shake supplements, I’m noticing some key developments in my behavior.

Read the rest–>

Energy Drink of the Month — August 2014

If you eat breakfast at 6am, is the meal you eat at 10am really lunch? Not wanting to feel like a Hobbit with Second Breakfast and Elevenses, I wanted an energy drink that would help me wake up without irritating an empty stomach; one that wouldn’t replace the breakfast I intended to have at 8am and one that wouldn’t require me to wait in a long line. At my local 7-11, I found a product that did the trick.

The Energy Drink of the Month for August 2014 is Arriba Horchata Energy.

Energy Drink of the Month Horchata

Energy Drink of the Month

I am naming this Energy Drink of the Month not because I want to encourage more people to drink it, but because I find this product fascinating in my adorable, dorky food scientist sort-of-way.


Don’t mention Vampire Weekend. According to the dictionary:

definition by Oxford Dictionary

definition by Oxford Dictionary



Have you ever eaten a bag of chips and realized later that one bag was supposed to be 3 servings? I hate that. Always check the Servings per Container. Checking that first will put the rest of these point in context.


For any product featuring the word “ENERGY” on the label, always look for a caffeine statement and where the caffeine (if any) is coming from. In this case, there are 76mg of caffeine, and it comes from guarana (the 7th ingredient in the ingredient’s list). To learn more about where guarana comes from, what green tea extract and guarana have in common and what dosages of guarana are safe, see this energy drink guide.


Always check the amount of sugar per serving (and per container). There’s a whopping 38g of sugar in this one can, and all of it comes from Sugar. I try to limit my added sugars and some days I’m more successful than others. I know this product is not going to help me reach that goal for the day, but I’m committed to trying this product at least once.

After my first few sips of the product, I decided 38g was too much; it was way too sweet for me (and all my colleagues in Product Development would tell you that’s really saying something). If Arriba made a lower-sugar version of this I’d be all over it. But alas…

Horchata Nutrition Facts Panel

Horchata Nutrition Facts Panel


There are quite a few B-vitamins in the product but unfortunately none of them are included with the Daily Value percentages on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Here are the vitamins included, and some notes pulled 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

Calcium D-Pantothenate = vitamin B5; note “pantothen” in Greek means everywhere, and this vitamin is so abundant in every food group that no one has ever had a pantothenic acid deficiency.

Niacinaminde = vitamin B3; note niacin deficiency, pellagra or Mal de la Rosa reached epidemic proportion is the USA in the early 1900s.

Pyridoxine HCl = vitamin B6; note this vitamin participates in over 100 chemical reaction on the body but consuming over 100mg per day (5,000% DV) can cause nerve damage.

Thiamin mononitrate = vitamin B1; note thiamin deficiency is called beriberi which means “I can’t, I can’t” in Sri Lanka.

Folic acid; note folic acid is the poster-child for vitamin fortification success.

D-Biotin; note biotin is a key player in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.

Cyanocobalamin = vitamin B12; note B12 can be a hurdle to Veganism because plants don’t make it; all B12 is made via fermentation of bacteria, fungi or algae (side-note: algae ingredients like spirulina and chlorella can be vegan sources of B12).


Yes, this product contains carrageenan, which is a thickening agent like Xanthan Gum (Read The Xanthan Gum Disaster here). Carageenan may be a controversial ingredient but I don’t believe there is cause for panic. Some useful, credible resources for reference:

In “Harmful or Harmless: Carrageenan”, Chris Kresser points out that there are two types of carrageenan, and the one most associated with harm is not the form used as an effective thickener.

Chris Kresser on Carrageenan

Chris Kresser on Carrageenan

The European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General, Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) states that intakes of carrageenan are of no concern if the amount consumed is below the No Observed Effects Level (NOEL) of 750 mg per kilogram body weight per day. (Read the complete Opinion of SCF on Carageenan – free, here)


Because I am a Quality Assurance professional (and I can’t help myself), when I look at a product like this and the lack of information on their website, I ask questions. I can’t help but wonder, How big is this company? Do they have a HACCP plan to ensure product safety? Do they do microbiological testing on incoming ingredients? What tests do they do on the finished product before it’s cleared for release/shipping?

Bottom Line

Due to the sugar content, lack of B-vitamin information and lack of information on the company making this product, I would not encourage consumption. Nor would I discourage anyone who wanted to try it as an alternative to another energy drink or coffee beverage.

Additional Resources

Arriba Horchata Energy main page

Caffeine Content in Arriba Horchata Energy – Caffeine Informer

Changing the World 1 book at a time

Energy Drink of the Month — July 2014

It was one year ago that I first held it. I pinched it, turned it over, smelled it. Deciding that it was real, I laughed heartily and did a little dance of victory. My first book had finally been published. My quest to help people see energy drinks like I do, to explain the tricks and tips to consuming caffeine safely, and to introduce my 5 Levels of Fatigue system for picking the right product had finally materialized into a green paperback. Ten years of research, experimentation and late-night writing all in less than 200 pages.

Energy Drink of the Month — A Year’s Reflection

To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of what I still consider my first child, I’d like to take a look back at a year’s worth of posts about the Energy Drink of the Month. Each of them is highlighted for a different reason and almost none of them matches the typical energy drink you’d hear lambasted on the news.


[June 2014] – Neuro Sonic:

neruo SONIC

I love it when energy drinks have lids!

With a twisty-cap for easy caffeine moderation, this energy-drink-in-disguise features an amount of caffeine perfect for tough mornings. With 100 milligrams of caffeine, carbonation, and no fruit juice (except for color purposes), this product suitable for Fatigue Level 3. Read More: 3 Levels and 3 Reasons

[May 2014] – vitaminwater Energy:

vitaminwater energy

Energy Drink of the Month – May 2014

With the best caffeine warning label I’ve ever seen, vitaminwater Energy is perfect for road trips, those on a budget, and those looking for a very mild caffeine boost. Read More: 3 Pros and Cons of vitaminwater® energy drink – from a Food Science, Product Development and Quality Perspective

[April 2014] – Avitae caffeinated water:

caffeine water natural label

Caffeine : Water : : Beet Powder : Lemonade

As far as energy drinks go, it doesn’t get much cleaner or simpler than this. With three levels of caffeine available, this product line is suitable for Level 2, 3 and 4 of the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Also note that since it comes in a bottle you can sip it and reseal it, regulating your caffeine intake in ways that aren’t possible with an open can or a hot coffee. Read More: Redefining “Energy Drink” – 5 Qs with Avitae

[March 2014] – FRS Healthy Energy:

Energy Drink March 2014 Healthy Energy

Visit FRS.com

Champion of the consumer-friendly label, this product is weak-sauce when it comes to caffeine content, but features intriguing “alternative-energy” ingredients like Quercetin. What is Quercetin and what does it have to do with Harry Potter’s mom? Read on my friends. Read More: 5 Reasons to Pick FRS Healthy Energy

[February 2014] – Starbucks Refreshers:

Starbucks Refreshers GreenEyedGuideFinding a soul-mate for Valentine’s Day is hard. Finding a Starbucks is easy. With this green-coffee-powered energy-drink-in-disguise, you can still hit on the baristas in the green aprons without buying a source of caffeine that has to be chilled or consumed within the hour. Read More: 5 Reasons Refreshers Deserve Your Love

[January 2014] – V8 V-Fusion + Energy:

EDM_v8Starting the year with PIGs and POAs (Plans, Ideas, Goals and Plan of Actions)? Start the year strong by swapping a Red Bull for a V8. By the way, they have the same amount of caffeine – 80mg/can, which is less than a tall latte from Starbucks. Read More: 7 Little Known Facts about V8 V-Fusion

[December 2013] – Red Bull Editions:

CAM00055-1I confess I’m friends with the Monster, and I may or may not party like a Rockstar on New Year’s Eve. But making it through the holiday season requires a special energy drink. How special? Special edition…Read More: How Red Bull Editions Beat the Competition in 5 Different Categories

[November 2013] – Go Girl:

Go Girl ED of Nov 2013This energy drink is one of the few who donate a percentage of their sales to a charitable donation. Like its caffeine content, the charitable contributions are not overwhelming, but not negligible. Read More: 3 Insights on Go Girl

[October 2013] – Spider Energy:

Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.

Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.

Encouraging consumers to “drink what you fear”, this product could have been among the first to challenge notions that all energy drinks are toxic. Some caffeinated products are certainly worse than others, but enjoy this one with caution. The amount of caffeine per container, carbonation and sugar content put this product at Level 4 in the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Read More: Green-Eyed Guide Teaches Man to Fish with Spider

[September 2013] – Rize Energy:

Energy Drink of the Month - September 2013Like the trajectory of a Red Bull flugtag contraption, many people start September with an optimistic lift of energy and determination…before losing momentum and dropping quickly to the ground. I have to plan for Halloween already?!? The sun has set already?!? Midterms, already?!? Don’t give into the fall, rise. You may be powerless to stop the evening fog from rolling in, but you can combat the fog that creeps into your mind – rise. Read More: 3 Ways Rize Helps Body and Brain

[August 2013] – Archer Farms Energy:

Energy Drink of the Month - August 2013With the end of summer comes three specific energy-zappers. Caffeine is not the only solution but it can certainly help, as long as you pick the right product. Read More: Why The End of Summer is Tiring and What You Can Do About It

[July 2013] – Nawgan Mandarin Orange:

Energy Drink of the Month - July 2013This energy-drink-in-disguise was the first product I ever picked for Energy Drink of the Month. This product doesn’t even call itself an energy drink but it’s got more caffeine than the top selling energy drink in the nation. Choosing to avoid or enjoy an energy drink is not as black and white as it seems, but anyone can learn the 10 steps of consuming caffeine safely. Read More: How to Read a Caffeinated Product’s Label in 10 seconds.


Remember, knowledge is power, and the dosage makes the difference between a poison and a cure. Thanks for the support, the comments and all the shares! ~ Green-Eyed Guide

Click this link to get your copy of Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely (also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and more! Check Goodreads for your favorite source, or just ask your local bookstore)

Please “Like” the Energy Drink Guide on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/energydrinkguide

FEAR and FACTS — Food Science and Consumer Perception

In many cases, companies have found themselves challenged by consumers and groups who object to a technology based on what they have heard rather than what they know.


This insightful observation comes from Food Business News’ Executive Editor Keith Nunes. There’s no denying that fear is an effective sales strategy. Unfortunately, as Mr. Nunes points out, using fear creates false impressions and confusion among consumers, and these scare tactics are hurting the food and beverage industry. The solution? Fight fear with facts.

Food Science in the News — Fear and FACTS


In his editorial (found here–page 9), Mr. Nunes mentions several examples of how marketers use subliminal hints to sway consumer perceptions towards certain products by besmirching another. One example in the article is the ketchup label that reads “No HFCS”, which taps into consumer fears and public perception more than scientific evidence about HFCS. This is just one example. Have you ever looked at the label of a frozen yogurt product and found that it contains more sugar and fat than the ice cream you passed up?  Have you ever indulged in a Vegan cookie because you thought it would be healthier than the non-vegan variety? (like this one — see #5) Did you know that certified Organic foods are not inherently safer or more nutritious than their conventional counterparts?


With conflicting messages and confusing labels, it’s no wonder consumers are puzzled about food science and nutrition. As a food scientist, I try to help my friends and loved ones sort the facts from the fallacies. Granted, I don’t always know the answer and I’m not afraid to say so, but sometimes I am afraid to reveal my position. Recently, I discovered an organization which aims to facilitate these types of conversations. Their mission is my mission, so I’m elated to spread the word about the work they are doing.


Introducing the International Food Information Council (IFIC):

Their mission and vision says it all:


“…where credible science drives food policy and consumer choice.” Sold. Sign me up. In fact, I encourage all those seeking scientifically driven food science and nutrition information to become a FACTS follower. What is FACTS?


NEW — the FACTS network: 



The FACTS network is a product of IFIC. This network is like the Caffeine Informer of food: presenting unbiased, science-driven information so all consumers can make informed decisions in pursuit of healthier lives.


3 Reasons Why the IFIC and the FACTS Network Deserve Your Attention


REASON ONE: Daytime Doctors — John Oliver, Dr Oz and the Unfortunate State of the Supplement Industry


REASON TWO: Public Misconceptions —  Jimmy Kimmel asks Gluten-freebies “What is Gluten?”


REASON THREE: Emotional Conversations —  Raw versus Pasteurized milk; GMOs; Raising a child on a raw food diet; the soda ban; the dangers of energy drinks… These are all conversations that can be difficult to have without emotion. Plenty of scientists avoid these conversations altogether to avoid the confrontation. The IFIC says the percentage of emotional conversations around food is decreasing, but is that because people are learning it’s better to avoid these topics or because consumers are becoming more open-minded to different view points? I can only hope it’s the latter.



For valuable consumer information on raw milk, biotechnology, food labeling, food fortification and other health/nutrition topics, explore the IFIC website: http://www.foodinsight.org/


Become a FACTS follower: On Facebook, On Twitter, or through the FACTS home page


Other great resources:

“Taking the Pulse of America’s Diet: Findings from the 2014 IFIC Foundation Food & Health Survey” 

(See the condensed SlideShare presentation here)

Food Science in the News — John Oliver, Dr. Oz and the Unfortunate State of the Supplement Industry

Every organization has its angels and demons. The supplement industry is full of people with good intentions. It’s also fraught with people who see an opportunity to swindle consumers who seek a quick fix to complicated conditions like diabetes and obesity. Personally I believe the answer to the weak links has a little to do with “Regulatory Zeal” — watch and be amazed:

Watch Comedian John Oliver Blast Dr. Oz and Dietary Supplements Industry | Nutritional Outlook

Probably not a supplement I'd recommend...

Probably not a supplement I’d recommend…

Related Posts:

Which comes first: supplement safety laws or the power to enforce them?

Consumer Warnings and the Oz Effect

5-in-1 weight loss supplement combo IS effective, but…

Other Handy Resources:

Google HELPOUTS: “Energy Drink 101: how to sort the good from the bad” - enjoy a face-to-face (via webcam) conversation with yours truly and learn how to avoid red flags and questionable products (First session is free; spend 5 minutes talking or 30 minutes, I’m here to help – D. Robertson)

Follow @GreenEyedGuide on Twitter and stay updated on all”Food Science in the News” and consumer-awareness related posts.