Bakers Journal

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Cargill reports European interest in stevia-based sweetener


September 28, 2010
By Bakers Journal

September 28, 2010, Europe – Cargill claims there is “extensive” European interest in its stevia-based sweetener, even though the European Commission has yet to approve steviol glycosides as food ingredients, according to www.bakeryandsnacks.com .

The European Food Safety Agency found stevia plant derivatives safe for use as additives in food and beverages last April. But until the European Commission legalizes stevia derivatives, they are banned in food and beverage products sold throughout the EU, with the exceptions of Belgium and France.

Following a 1985 study of rats, steviol (a breakdown product of two steviol glycosides) was reported to be a mutagen. The procedures employed during the study were widely criticized, but many countries banned stevia-based derivatives anyway. Subsequent research has produced mixed findings. Although several reports have claimed that steviol is a weak mutagen, the majority of studies have concluded that stevia derivatives have no harmful health effects. To date, no study has shown a link between stevia derivatives and cancer, or birth defects.

Cargill’s stevia-based sweetener is already available in the United States under the name Truvia. It received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 and is now consumed by approximately 4.5 million American households. Truvia accounts for 8.2 per cent of the sugar substitute market in the United States, www.bakeryandsnacks.com reports.

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In Canada, stevia extracts are not currently approved for use in food. However, Health Canada has approved stevia and its extracts as a non-medicinal, sweetening ingredient in more than 100 natural health products, and as a medicinal ingredient in three others.