Stevia supporters got some good news in December 2008 when a natural sweetener, Truvia™, was given the green light to hit the markets. Finally the FDA approved a stevia ingredient as a sweetener for commercial and popular use.
The ruling came as a bit of a shock to many people who were familiar with (and bewildered by) the steps this government regulatory body took to block this herb from the market. Stevia fans know that it has been used safely in food for centuries in South America and around the world. It has also been used to treat various health problems including ulcers and skin disorders. Many natural health experts and users consider it safe, especially in the pure leaf form.
Truvia™, however, contains only an ingredient found in stevia called rebaudioside A or rebiana, which is taken from the sweetest parts of the plant. After extensive research it was granted GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status. Cargill, a Minneapolis-based international provider of food, agricultural and risk management products and services, spent five years developing the product. They also enlisted the help of many scientists in the product’s design and testing.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) however denounced the FDA decision. They maintain concerns about animal studies that showed a possible link of this herb to cancerous genetic mutations. According to CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson: “It is far too soon to allow this substance in the diet sodas and juice drinks consumed by millions of people.”
It’s important to keep in mind that NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low, which contain the sugar substitute aspartame, have been FDA approved for decades. Health articles and news stories still link these sweeteners to health problems.
Despite concerns from the CSPI, stevia will likely continue to grow in popularity as millions of people welcome the herb and TruviaTM as no-calorie sweeteners. Stevia is already a favorite with the weight-loss conscious crowd, diabetics, and people concerned about artificial sweeteners and the side effects of sugar consumption. The FDA approval is a good sign of things to come.
This shrub in the chrysanthemum family is native to Paraguay and grows in other parts of South America. It has been used for hundreds of years to sweeten, teas, beverages, and food. The powder is about 300 times sweeter than sugar; the leaf is about 30 times sweeter.
Truvia™ natural sweetener is a great tasting, zero-calorie tabletop sweetener made with rebiana. It is also used to sweeten foods and beverages. Cargill assures consumers that Truvia is made with only the top-quality leaves from the stevia plant.