Stevia Plant – Photo Courtesy: Hebam
On November 12, 2007, Coca-Cola announced that they will now be tackling the ongoing “Stevia Battle” in the United States in hopes of releasing a stevia-based, high intensity sweetener they’re calling “Rebiana”. Stevia, an herb known for its naturally sweet taste, has been banned in the United States as a sugar alternative since the early 1990’s. The reasoning is still unclear – the FDA claims that they don’t know the long-term effects of using this herb as a food, though the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act forced the organization to approve it as a dietary supplement.
The FDA Says…
Available toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety as a food additive or to affirm its status as GRAS. However, with regard to its use in dietary supplements, dietary ingredients, including stevia, are not subject to food additive regulations.
Is Big Business Behind This Sweet Ban?
What is actually stopping the FDA from looking into the safety and efficacy of stevia as a food product remains to be seen. It’s hard not to think that there’s something more behind the issue. It would only be emblematic of America’s pro big business strategy for it to take a big name company like Coca-Cola to force a second look at so-called “inadequate information”.
Stevia is, after all, a popular and widely used herb throughout South America, Central America, and China. Studies of its use have shown that the herb has antifungal properties, can help to lower blood pressure and blood sugar, and can be used as a calorie-free sweetener for diabetics and healthy individuals alike. Let’s see if Coca-Cola can make a big enough push to allow US citizens a lawful taste.
An Update from Coca-Cola Company
(May 31, 2013)
Here is an excerpt from an article by Nicole Beland on the Coca-Cola company’s website:
“Consumers have been looking for a natural way to sweeten products without calories,” says George Pugh, PhD, stevia expert and Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Coca-Cola. The company invested years of research into the development and study of stevia. In part because of their hard work, the FDA gave it their stamp of approval to be used in foods and as a baking ingredient in 2008. “Coca-Cola paved the way,” says Pugh. “Now stevia is available in 75 countries around the world.”
The article goes on to give a breakdown of what stevia is, where can you find it and how it can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. To read the complete article, you may visit: “Everything You Need to Know About Stevia“.
Now that big companies like Coca-Cola have become proactive in using stevia and have started informing the public about its health benefits, there is likely to be more awareness about this herb sweetener. If you plan to use stevia, keep in mind that it is considered almost 200 times sweeter than sugar and you’ll have to adjust your consumption accordingly.
PureCircle plans flotation to fund Reb-A sweetener supply [Food Navigator]
The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs [Rain Tree Nutrition]
Adrienne writes for special-interest magazines and has worked on the production of women’s lifestyle channels at AOL as well as at E! Entertainment Television. She graduated from CUNY Baruch, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper The Ticker.