Stevia Rebaudina News
Stevia Approved by FDA
From Stevia Info - 2008-12-18
Imports of the South American herb stevia are expected to increase dramatically with the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationís (FDA) approval of the stevia derivative Rebaudioside A as safe to use in food and beverages.
Prior to its decision the FDA labeled stevia as a dietary supplement, not a food additive.
Expected to benefit greatly from this long-awaited approval are industry giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo, Inc. who partnered with Cargill, Inc. and Merisant, respectively, to introduce this natural sweetener into new their beverage products.
While sales of carbonated sodas have flat lined, stevia offers the opportunity to create new zero- or low-calorie foods and drinks.
Coke is primed to introduce Sprite Green, a low-calorie version of Sprite. Coke markets its version of stevia under the Truvia brand name. Pepsi, using PureVia, launches zero-calorie variants of SoBe Lifewater by yearend and Trop50, an orange juice with 50 percent less sugar than regular juice.
Stevia is the only natural sweetener that has a practically zero calorie and carbohydrate content, and zero glycemic index. These properties have made it a holy grail to the beverages industry that seeks to carve out and create new markets in a health conscious market increasingly sensitive to a foodís sugar and carbohydrate content. Stevia extracts can have up to 200 times the sweetness of sugar and its zero glycemic index is a boon to diabetics and people with high blood sugar levels.
Steviaís defining characteristic is it being a natural sweetener compared to artificial sweeteners such as Equal and Splenda. Current production levels make stevia more expensive than artificial sweeteners but the FDAís decision is expected to spur increased cultivation from East Asia, China, South America and Israel.
The sugar and sweetener industry is currently valued at about US$10 billion.