Stevia Gets U.S. FDA Approval?

December 21, 2008

As of last week, it seems companies producing zero-calorie products will have zero excuse to continue using synthetic sweeteners aspartame, saccharin and Splenda.

Following political pressure from industry giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi, The FDA gave a long-awaited nod to two stevia-based sweeteners developed by PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company. According to an article in the New York Times, the FDA now says they have “no objection to rebiana having GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status” as a general-purpose sweetener for food and beverages. It’s a huge switch in the FDA’s attitude. Previously, despite that Stevia is approved as a food additive in at least a dozen countries, including Japan and China, it could only be marketed in the U.S. as a supplement and was routinely suppressed by the FDA, reputedly because it threatened the profits of aspartame.

The two new stevia-based sweeteners, PureVia and Truvia should show up on the consumer shelves in early 2009. Both use rebiana or Reb A, an extract from a South American shrub called stevia. Stevia is said to be 150 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. See also Stevia on Wiipedia

While the FDA’s motives continue to be questionable, the benefit to the consumer is not: This turn in the Stevia tide will no doubt open the gates for stevia-sweetened products to flood the market. That’s excellent news for anyone seeking healthier, more organic products.

New products to look for with Stevia

  • According to Reuters, Coca-Cola North America said Sprite Green is due to go on sale this month, and that it would be the first of what it expects to be many US products sweetened with Truvia.
  • PepsiCo said its first US PureVia sweetened products would SoBe Lifewater in three different flavors.

    One caveat: There is speculation that the patented stevia sweeteners being used by Coca-Cola and Pepsi are in some way “less natural.” Says one source, “Stevia was not approved as a food additive by U.S. regulators, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued letters to the companies on Wednesday saying it had no objections to their sweeteners, which are derived from the plant.” And reminds us to “… this is a combination of sweeteners and chemicals and not real stevia.”

    According to an article by foodnavigator.com, “Peter Milsted, PureCircle sales and marketing director, stressed that it was important for PureCircle that FDA GRAS was for 95 percent purity because ‘it separates it completely from stevia extract, which doesn’t have that kind of purity level as Reb A.’”

    We’ll keep you posted.

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About Tanya

Tanya is a bestselling novelist and award-winning journalist. She's led the editorial staffs of several parenting publications and Web based editorial, including AOL/ Huffington Post.
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40 Responses

  1. Stevia is great. I can’t STAND the taste of those phony sweeteners, but Stevia I can handle. I am glad it got FDA approval.

  2. To me it is obvious that truly independent studies on the effects of stevia-DERIVED sweeteners are imperative in preventing slanted investigations from becoming public “knowledge”, as was the case with aspertame in the early 70′s. The combination of different chemical sweeteners inside one’s body without proper investigation could lead to a product even more harmful than aspertame.
    The FDA should not allow the use of these sweeteners so hastily without proper testing. It troubles me that the same big companies that brought us diet sodas loaded with harmful aspertame, i.e. Coke and Pepsi, are so very eager to use stevia-DERIVED additives without proper investigation in the FDA.

    THE FDA HAS DENIED STEVIA AS A VIABLE OPTION FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
    And now they say, WITHOUT CONDUCTING ANY SORT OF INVESTIGATION ON THE PURITY OF STEVIA-DERIVITIVES , that they no longer feel it important to question the true safety of the product’s widespread consumption.

    I SMELL SOMETHING FISHY and the only way to insure public safety is through strong PUBLIC litigation. The FDA has failed the public before, and, I believe, it’s the consumers’ responsibility to question the authority of FDA investigations in a pursuit of a sound truth.

  3. THE FDA HAS DENIED STEVIA AS A VIABLE OPTION FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
    And now they say, WITHOUT CONDUCTING ANY SORT OF INVESTIGATION ON THE PURITY OF STEVIA-DERIVITIVES , that they no longer feel it important to question the true safety of the product’s widespread consumption.
    Thats a great one. Enjoyed reading it thanks.

  4. Truvia is on the shelves. It is not reb A as you would expect. The main ingredient in Truvia is Erythritol. This is a sugar alcohol that has .2 calories per gram. The next ingredient is rebiana.

    PureVia is also on the shelves. Guess what, main ingredient, Erythritol. while it contains rebiana it most certainly is not stevia based, it is Erythritol based.

    Sugar alcohols have their own issues. If you consume more than 1 gram, it can wreak havoc on your gastro-intestinal tract.

  5. That is really a good news.this is very interesting indeed.Would love to read a little more of this. Great post

  6. i read your article and get information arround the us fda.
    i think whenever any body read this hopefully those will be happy.thanks for giving the information.

  7. Yeah I appreciate such nice post..
    Thanks for sharing with us!

  8. nice reading through this post. thank you.

  9. I had said, I smell something fishy too. Where did my comment disappear?

    – Mark
    \

  10. The FDA should not allow the use of these sweeteners so hastily without proper testing. It troubles me that the same big companies that brought us diet sodas loaded with harmful aspertame, i.e. Coke and Pepsi, are so very eager to use stevia-DERIVED additives without proper investigation in the FDA.i read your article and get information arround the us fda.

  11. LoL, I really love to drink Coke Zero but didn’t even know the effects to our body.

  12. Stevia is great. It’s good to know FDA has approved it.I hate those fake sweeteners like saccharine which leave a odd after taste.

  13. Stevia is best sweetner. I’m glad it is getting a real chance.

  14. Oh, i see.. so PureVia and Truvia will also integrate as sweeteners.

  15. I welcome Stevia with open arms. I’m so tired of being unable to buy products for my wife that include aspartame. With Stevia in the picture, hopefully aspartame and splenda will be long gone in a year or two.

    Charley Brown

  16. FIRST OF ALL, STEVIA IS AN HERB WHICH I GROW THAT I USE AS A NATURAL SWEETNER THAT CONTAINS O SUGAR AND IS SAFE FOR DIABETICS.
    NOW IT IS TAMPERED WITH AS THESE LARGE MONEY GRUBBING CORPORATIONS GET INVOLVED.
    THEY ADD SUGAR, SO CALLED NATURAL FLAVORS(WHICH THEY DON’T SAY WHAT THEY ARE), NAMES LIKE REBIANA AND ERYTHRITOL.
    I DON’T TRUST COCO COLA OR PEPSI SINCE THEY DON’T GIVE A HOOT ABOUT OUR HEALTH, NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL. THEY ARE OUT TO MAKE MORE MONEY ONLY!!!
    I WOULD ONLY PURCHASE STEVIA FROM REPUTABLE SMALL ORGANIC COMPANYS THAT SELL THEIR PRODUCTS AT THE HEALTH FOOD STORES.

    WHEN YOU SEE NAMES LIKE TRUVIA WITH INGREDIENTS YOU NEVER HEARD OF,
    STEAR CLEAR. ALWAYS READ INGREDIENTS WHICH SHOULD ONLY BE STEVIA (LATIN NAME OF STEVIA rebaudiana) and inulin fiber

  17. Great news. I am following this story with interest.

  18. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  19. Well, this is a promising study. We need more means to compensate against the different health threats that surround us, we should appreciate these moves.

    Volcano Vaporizers

  20. This is great news. This information opens many doors for futher studies for the use of stevia. This information is greatly of help for pople like me.

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  21. I will not buy Truvia nor Pure-Via. I still get my Stevia fom my health supplement provider in pure ground form. I buy dried Stevia leaves from my ‘tea’ purveyor. I put one or two dried leaves into my pot of brewed tea and it is more than sweet enough. It even works in my coffee maker. One leaf in the pot and another up in the grounds. Plain water and seltzer both benefit from a pinch of ground Stevia and a slice of lemon or lime.
    I grow fresh Stevia when I can but I travel a lot and cannot maintain a garden if I’m not home.
    Coke, Pepsi and Searle have given us ‘almost’ enough evidence that the FDA can be bought, and has little or no concern for the people in its trust.

  22. I have been using stevia for a long time and like the rest of you I am angry that Pepsi, Coke and all the other companies that add ASPARTAME to their products are hurting their customers. I have very dry mouth & eyes and have to chew gum all day and all night or my mouth would litteraly stick together; it feels terrible. I would like to find a gum that uses stevia but am unable to. If there is one out there it will be way to expensive until the masses catch on to stevia.

    I called our local grocery store (we live in Northern Idaho) and asked them to stock the new pop that has stevia (sorry can’t remember the name) and they did start to sell it….almost $6.00 a six pack….people will not pay that much for it and it worries me to think that there are not enough people out there that know what stevia is.

    I grow the plant…Ok, I admit….I’ve killed more plants than I would like to remember. It is a pure sugar; I don’t understand why we can’t economically use this sugar. Big business is involved so it will be up to us, the customer, to make ourselves heard
    .
    I am surprised that this site does not have an active blog, the last time anyhone posted was 2009….this is 2-2011! We need more attention!

    • Hi Carol. This particular article has older posts, but we regularly update with new posts. They are available under “latest news” on the front page. Although we typically don’t bombard the site with new posts.

      We do have a facebook (link is available at the top of the page) where discussions are welcome. (Actually, they are more than welcome here as well!)

      If you’ve grown Stevia, would you like to do a guest article with tips about how to grow it successfully?

  23. I have wanted to write about something like this on my site and this has given me an idea. Thank you.

  24. Is Stevia something that we can use to replace sugar? I know that sugar has many bad affects on our health also. Is it the type of product that you can use in baking? It would really be great to find something healthy for all of sweet tooths :)
    Victoria

  25. I don’t trust stevia or erythritol either. I have tried both, and both made me very sick and dizzy. Same type of symptoms I get when using Splenda or aspartame.

    I’m convinced that 5 years using aspartame gave me pre diabetes. Doctor says no, but I believe that it did. How in the world did I get pre diabetes eating healthy? Only bad thing I was doing with healthy eating was eating aspartame.

    I have found that for me, I’m staying all natural.

  26. I absolutely *LOVE* this website. But isn’t it rather oxymoronic that a link to “See also Stevia on Wiipedia” was included in this article, considering the Dorway news article of 03/11 “Is Wikipedia Really a Steaming Turd?”? Some people DO pay close attention to detail. ;)

    • We thank you! You really do pay attention!

      This was an older article, and I hadn’t had my, ahem, dealings with them as yet. While Wiki is definitely not a reliable reporting source, I USED to feel they at least tried to accurately provide info.

      As much as I don’t like them, we probably won’t ever retro-edit articles — unless, of course, we know they are providing incorrect info.

      • I came across this article in my research on Stevia: Dangers of Stevia in the Raw – http://www.livestrong.com/article/99571-dangers-stevia-raw/
        As far as I know, Stevia is completely safe – in its purest form. My question is: What is his source and who’s paying Armstrong to say this?

        • I glanced at the article and the author is someone by the name of Walt Pickut — not necessarily Armstrong. I wouldn’t want to accuse, but it’s definitely food for thought! Thanks for sharing.

        • There are also many side effects of the overuse of aspartame… or regular sugar as well! I think rather than sweetening everything with natural or fake sweeteners, we should rather try to reduce our consumption of sweet food.

  27. I did not like Stevia at first…but after using it for a while…I have grown to really like the taste.

  28. The human body doesn’t have the capability to metabolize stevia’s sweet glycosides, so they pass right through the body without providing calories or adversely affecting levels of blood glucose. Of course, this makes stevia a boon for folks with diabetes, pre-diabetes, blood pressure issues or excess weight. Notably, this isn’t the only benefit to stevia’s nutritional index. Lab testing has discovered that stevia’s leaf and essential oil also contains vitamins A and C, protein, fiber, potassium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, rutin and antioxidant flavonoids.

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