In the News

April 2009 Issue

Newly Approved Stevia Sweetener Beckons, But Is Natural Safe Enough?

This past December, a new calorie-free sweetener was granted GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status by the Food and Drug Administration. Made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant (specifically, the compound rebaudioside A, or Reb A), the sweetener, known simply as stevia (pronounced STEH-via), is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Under GRAS, any natural ingredient with no reported adverse effects is deemed safe and needs no additional safety testing. Previously, stevia could be sold only as a supplement. Now, soft drink manufacturers are racing to introduce drinks sweetened with PureVia (the brand name for Reb A as an ingredient)—SoBe Lifewater appears to be the first (see story, below). Meanwhile, the Cargill company is heavily promoting Truvía, its brand of stevia in individual packets.

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