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In December 2008, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Rebiana-based sweeteners as food additives. Rebiana is the trade name for a natural, zero-calorie sweetener which is extracted from the stevia plant.

Coca-Cola intends to use Rebiana under the consumer brand Truvia, marketed by Cargill, in its Sprite Green and Odwalla juice drinks, due to go on sale this month.

PepsiCo intends to use Rebiana under the consumer brand PureVia in its SoBe Lifewater in three different flavors, due to hit stores “shortly”.

Stevia Use Worldwide

The leaves of the stevia plant have 30–45 times the sweetness of sucrose (ordinary table sugar). Rebaudioside is 250–300 times sweeter than sucrose, heat stable, pH stable, and non-fermentable.

Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. produced the first commercial stevia sweetener in Japan in 1971. Since that time, the Japanese have been using stevia in food products, soft drinks (including Coca Cola), and for table use. Stevia accounts for 40% of the sweetener market in Japan.

Stevia is an approved dietary supplement in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In June 2008, stevia was approved as a food and beverage sweetener in Australia and New Zealand.

Stevia is currently banned for use in food in the European Union.

Controversy in the United States

In 1991, at the request of an anonymous complaint, the FDA found that “toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety” and labeled stevia as an “unsafe food additive” and restricted its import.

Stevia occurs naturally, requiring no patent to produce it. Many marketers and consumers of stevia believe that the FDA acted in response to pressure from the “Sweetener Lobby.”

The FDA refuses to reveal the source of the original complaint in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act forced the FDA to permit stevia to be used as a dietary supplement but not as a food additive.

For the Karpuks in the audience

: It has been reported that eggshell breakage can be reduced by 75% by adding a small percentage of stevia leaf powder to chicken feed.

Additional Resources

Stevia at Wikipedia.

Results of safety study performed by Cargill and Coca-Cola.

World Health Organization safety evaluation of certain food additives.

European Union Opinion on STEVIOSIDE AS A SWEETENER (adopted on 17/6/99)