If someone asked you to draw a Venn diagram showing energy drink consumers and loyal Jamba Juice customers, how much would those two groups overlap? If you are familiar with my Energy Drink of the Month blog posts, you know by now that all energy drinks are not created equal. Some don’t fit the mold, and there are many “energy-drinks-in-disguise” at your local grocery store and/or gas station. This month’s pick is dedicated to another energy-drink-in-disguise, and also to telepathy.
The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2014 is Jamba Blueberry Pomegranate.
Have you ever looked at a food or supplement label and thought, “I wish I knew what the food scientists think about this”? Allow me to present this opportunity for you to be Mr. Spock or Dr. Xavier (your pick) and read my thoughts as I assess this product.
7 Thoughts on Jamba Energy
1-There’s pictures of blueberries and pomegranates on the label…alert the press!
Since this is the first image I have of the product, we’ll start here. Whether or not you’re in the food industry, you might’ve heard the news story about Pom Wonderful suing Coca Cola over a pomegranate blueberry juice blend. The excerpt below from a Nutritional Outlook article explains the problem (click here for full article):POM Wonderful is suing Coke, alleging that the company deceptively uses the words pomegranate and blueberry on its Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Fruit Juice Blend label, when in fact the drink contains very little pomegranate and blueberry juice… On his show, Oliver joked that “one of Coke’s actual arguments this week in the Supreme Court is that they’re allowed to give their product a name that refers to juices that provide the characterizing flavor—an argument that has the characterizing flavor of bullsh*t.”
Full (hilarious and informative) John Oliver video here
With the can now in hand, we move from these prominent images to the next point.
2-Pomegranate and Blueberry location on the ingredient line
Surprise, surprise, neither pomegranates nor blueberries are the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Water is the first ingredient, followed by apple juice concentrate (and that’s significant when we get to point 4). The good news is pomegranates and blueberries are not last on the ingredient list, so they are not added in “fairy dust amounts” in order to make it onto the label.
3-Ingredient Line continued, Natural Flavor Alert
Since I have had the pleasure of working closely with flavor houses as a product developer, I never panic when I see the phrase “natural flavors”. I’m not sure where the food blog activists got their ammunition to freak out over natural flavors, especially since “natural” used to be the magic word of acceptability to some non-food scientists. By themselves, the fruit purees are not potent enough to convey the intended flavor. This is where natural flavors come in, but finding the right flavor for the intended consumer is a challenge.
For example, when a food scientist says to a flavorist, “I want the product to taste like strawberries”, the flavorist has to navigate through a wide spectrum to find the right flavor profile. Should it be a jammy strawberry? Artificial or candy-like strawberry? Creamy like strawberry yogurt? Juicy like fresh-picked strawberries? The possibilities are more numerous than the average consumer could imagine. It’s possible a hint of natural blueberry flavor is the key to the the ideal strawberry flavor profile. I’ll elaborate on natural flavors a future blog, but let’s move on to one of the most important points of this Jamba evaluation.
Completing the initial review of the ingredient line, I noticed no sugars are added, only Stevia. I like seeing Stevia on the label as opposed to artificial sugars – NOT because I’m convinced that artificial sweeteners are bad for you (the evidence is inconclusive), but it’s one of those “just-in-case” personal decisions. Moving our eyes up the label to the Nutrition Facts Panel we see that there are 20 grams of sugar per serving, and it’s all coming from the fruit juices (especially apple juice). This discovery is the make-or-break moment for me, as I am one of many consumers who try to limit excess sugars wherever possible. It’s not like raw blueberries are sugar-free, but obviously eating raw blueberries is different than consuming a blueberry juice flavored product. Since my objective is to get an energy boost and not to fight free radicals, I’ll keep going.
I am consuming Jamba’s energy drink for an energy boost, NOT to boost my freggie count for the day. Thankfully the caffeine content is prominently displayed on the can, 80mg (see Nutrition Facts picture, above and look beside the words “Serve Chilled”). At the time of the evaluation, this amount of caffeine PERFECT for my Level of Fatigue (Level 2= 2 Tired to Go It Alone; i.e. I know my fatigue is not due to dehydration/boredom, Level 1).
6-When Energy Drinks Come With Juice
Carbonation is added to this product but energy drinks with juice are not as carbonated as their juice-less counterparts. The ways juice and carbonation affect the perceived energy boost is something I discuss in detail in the Energy Drink Guide. In this case, I just need a little boost, not a big energy kick, so the juice is a good indication this product will suit my Level of Fatigue.
7-Food Safety Nerd Alert
Raw juices make me nervous. I know too much food micro to be comfortable with the risk, especially since the product is 70% juice. I’m relieved to see that this juice is pasteurized. For more info on raw juices and the Juicing trend: click here
I can tell by the marketing blurb on the side of the can that the intended consumer is one who is trying to avoid the stereotypical energy drink. “Pure and simple”, this energy drink has a clean label, and is a good alternative to many other energy products. There is no added sugar; it’s coming all from the fruit juices. If the sugar content is a deal-breaker, consider this: sugar-free Red Bull has the same amount of caffeine — 80 mg. Personally I would rather drink a Jamba energy drink than a sugar-free Red Bull (though only if the line at Jamba was short).
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