Stevia-Based Rebiana Sweetener Studies Published

Lynn A. Kuntz Comments
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The peer-reviewed scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology published a series of studies online today that verify the safety of rebiana (the common name for high-purity rebaudioside A from stevia) when consumed as a general-use sweetener. Cargill Inc., Wayzata, MN, partnering with The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, has developed rebiana as a natural, zero-calorie ingredient that will be marketed by Cargill under the TRUVIA™ brand.

The clinical studies were commissioned by Cargill to: ensure the safety of rebiana for general-purpose use as a sweetener; ensure the data on stevioside are relevant to rebaudioside A (a sweet-tasting steviol glycoside extracted from the stevia plant and the major component of rebiana); and resolve questions raised by previous studies or regulatory authorities regarding rebiana’s safety.

“These newly published data complement the body of existing scientific research on steviol glycosides, the sweet components of the stevia leaf,” says Leslie Curry, regulatory and scientific affairs director, Cargill Food and Ingredient Systems. “The rebiana research program affirmed positive safety data from earlier studies on purified steviol glycosides and addressed unresolved questions resulting from studies with crude stevia extracts.”

The studies found:

  • Human metabolism of rebaudioside A is similar to that of stevioside, the most abundant steviol glycoside in the stevia leaf;.
  • No negative effects on general health were associated with doses equivalent to a 150-lb. person drinking more than 2,000 8-oz. servings of a rebiana-sweetened beverage;
  • It had no treatment-related effects on any organ, including kidneys and male reproductive organs.
  • It had no negative effects on reproduction, growth or development of adults or their offspring.
  • It had no significant blood-pressure effects in healthy subjects with normal or low-normal blood pressure.
  • It had no effect on blood sugar control.
  • It was well-tolerated in people with type 2 diabetes.

Certain stevia products are currently sold as supplements in the United States. Stevia-based sweeteners have not yet been approved for use in the United States, Canada or Europe, although they are in use in several global markets, most notably Japan, China and Korea. However, although no timetable is forthcoming, Cargill and Coca-Cola expect FDA approval in the near future. These studies are essential to this process.

“TRUVIA natural sweetener was developed to meet the strong consumer demand for a natural, zero-calorie way to sweeten foods and beverages. Rebiana provides a new, great-tasting alternative that meets that demand,” says Zanna McFerson, business director, Cargill Health & Nutrition. “The results of this research program pave the way to bring this long sought after sweetener to U.S. consumers.”

Rebiana is approximately 200 times as sweet as sugar and minimizes any off-flavors—generally described as bitter and/or licorice-like—found in other stevia products.

 

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