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6 Things We Learned from Red Sox Fan, MIT Graduate and Chief Technology Officer Bril Flint

by: Bril Flint

“At HumanN, science matters. It helps us determine the difference between good and great, acceptable and exceptional. Guesswork and certainty. It is the measurement of quality and it fuels our conviction.”

Bril Flint
Chief Technology and Supply Chain Officer
at HumanN

When we sat down with Bril to learn more about our own company and products, we were not sure what to expect, in a good way. In the famous words we all know and love, he’s kind of like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. He’s an avid Red Sox fan and champion of the local high school football team at Westlake High School. He is also a MIT graduate who has had a career that has spanned the recorded music, technology, and now food & supplement industry.

If you ever get to meet Bril, no matter what you sit down and talk to him about, you are going to learn something new. No matter how long you’ve been here! Below we’re sharing six things that even some of our own team members didn’t know about the science, ingredients and quality standards behind our company and products. And when we say science matters, we mean it.

ONLY 1 IN 10 BEETS MEET OUR QUALITY STANDARDS.

We start with crop quality. We’re committed to sourcing beets at their best. We take this commitment seriously. Before we started selling our SuperBeets product in 2013, we tested crops from a variety of farms and beet processors. We found enormous differences in nutrient content depending on the locale, field, farming methods and processing procedures. Dietary nitrates are essential to a beet’s ability to help the body generate nitric oxide. Testing results showed variation by a factor of one hundred or more across different crops. It became immediately clear that not every beet can be a SuperBeet.

Because of this crop to crop variation, we established a standardized set of specifications for beets that were acceptable. Only about ten percent of red table beets meet or exceed our standards for use in our products. We use red table beets in our products — strictly non-GMO. No white sugar beets, most of which are GMO, are allowed in our fields or production supply chain. Despite pressures to quickly bring a product to market, we took the extra time necessary to source the best beets. It’s paid off. The quality of our products is exceptional. Our commitment to top shelf ingredients is the first step to creating functional food products that work. Everything after that builds on a principle of excellence.

Our manufacturers are required to comply with the FDA’s regulations for Good Manufacturing Practices — called GMPs for short. These practices ensure high quality products that aren’t contaminated or adulterated. We look for the highest quality manufacturing facilities, not the cheapest.

SUPERBEETS STARTED WITH BLACK CHERRY FOR A REASON.

Processing is equally important. We evaluated many beet processors before choosing a long-term partner to consistently deliver high-quality, color, taste and nutrient content for our beet products. Some people have it in their heads that beets taste bad. Maybe they recall the pickled beets their mom made them eat when they were young. Our products really raise the bar on flavor. For starters, they aren’t pickled. And we blend in natural cherry, apple and berry flavors that enhance and complement the beet taste. Our beet products taste fantastic while being good for you.

PROTEIN40 TOOK US 30 TRIES TO GET THE TASTE RIGHT. AND THAT WAS OK WITH US.

Our approach to high quality extends to our other products as well.  For Protein40, we use only the best whey available: Whey Protein Isolate 90, and two rather expensive casein proteins, which are necessary to achieve long-acting protein synthesis. Casein protein isn’t easy to flavor, and we spent lots of time getting the tasty flavor profile we wanted. Focusing on natural flavor ingredients only, we taste-tested over thirty different formulas before landing on the rich, creamy chocolate taste in Protein40. We actually use a natural chocolate that is also used in a leading, premium ice cream brand.

LICORICE ROOT CAN BLOCK BITTER TASTE RECEPTORS ON THE TONGUE.

HeartGreens is another example of how we go the extra mile to find just the right flavor. Customer research shows that many people don’t like the taste of truly healthy greens powders. Most manufacturers get around this by adding sugar, overly sweet fruits or other non-healthy ingredients to their greens drinks. We consider that a compromise in product integrity.

Instead, we developed a delicious flavor profile using natural ingredients. The plant world offers plenty of options to accomplish this. For example, there is a natural ingredient in licorice root that, when used in very small quantities, can block the bitter taste receptors on the tongue. By blocking the bitter components present in most greens, we dramatically improve the flavor profile of HeartGreens.  We then add a small amount of lemon to create a healthy, yet tasty, greens powder.

BITTER BLINDNESS IS A REAL THING.

One of my fun responsibilities is collecting feedback from my colleagues in the office on new product prototypes. I get a kick out of their reactions, both good and bad, to our latest concoction. Everyone’s tastes are different of course, so much of our efforts are focused on finding flavor options that appeal to as many people as possible. For example, I am part of the population that has what is known as “bitter blindness”. This means that ingredients like caffeine taste different for me than others in the office. So when we were taste-testing our newest product, SuperBeets Energy Plus infused with green tea, we had a lot of debates as we went through flavor testing over the simple question – does it taste bitter to you? I feel great satisfaction and a sense of pride when our tasters report back that the product worked and tasted great.

EVERY INGREDIENT MATTERS.

Every ingredient in our products is significant, so every ingredient is sourced with care. Processing is more than just an action, it’s a precise application of standards. We take care in all that we do. We know that our work, commitment and attention to detail can be found in all of our products. We believe HumanN products stand out from the crowd because they are created with a purpose — to make a difference. We have more than just confidence. We have the conviction that comes with science.

Author

Bril Flint, Red Sox Fan, MIT Graduate, Chief Technology & Supply Chain Officer

A MIT Graduate who happens to also be an avid Red Sox fan, he joined the humanN team in 2013 as Chief Technology & Supply Chain Officer. With a career that has spanned the recorded music business, technology, investing and now food & supplement industry, Bril is truly a pioneer and someone that you definitely want to grab a coffee (or beer) with if you ever get the chance.

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