Stevia approved for use in South Africa

Stevia, the “natural, healthy” alternative to sugar, has finally been approved for use in South Africa with the recent promulgation (10 September 2012) of new sweetener regulations.

Regulation R733, Regulations Relating to the Use of Sweeteners in Foodstuffs, allows the use of extracts of stevia rebaudiana, in composition and quantities in line with Codex standards, in food and beverages. Steviol glycosides can be used to a maximum level of 330mg/kg.

Download the new regulations here on the Dept of Health website, under the Directorate Food Control:

Further guidelines are also available on the website regarding use of non-nutritive sweeteners.

This long-awaited development will be welcomed by several ingredient vendors in SA and should pave the way to new product development incorporating stevia. As a no-calorie, natural sweetener, it will play an important role in addressing consumer interest in healthier diets and sustainable ingredients, as well as to help offset rising commodity/sugar costs.

Stevia suppliers locally include Savannah Fine Chemicals, which represents PureCircle, the world’s leading producer of high purity stevia, and Tate & Lyle which just last week announced the launch a new stevia brand Tasteva, and which it says does not have the bitter flavour associated with many stevia sweeteners on the market.

“PureCircle is the global market leader in the manufacturing of high purity stevia products, which are natural and great tasting. With increased consumer demands for natural and healthy products, stevia presents the opportunity to help reduce added sugar and calories in food and beverage applications,”  says Savannah’s product manager, Monika Breed.

“A fully integrated supply chain ensures a reliable source of stevia leaf and a safe, high quality product providing customers a level of transparency and accountability across all sourcing regions. PureCircle is also committed to sustainability and the reduction of the environmental footprint.”

Stevia was declared GRAS (generally recognised as safe) in the United States in December 2008, it is believed to have close to 10% of the US sugars and sweeteners market.

Since stevia was introduced in Japan in 1970, following restrictions on artificial sweeteners, it is said to have achieved 40% market share. It won EU approval late last year.

There is a wealth of related stevia reading on FOODStuff SA:

Tate & Lyle launches Tasteva stevia sweetener

Stevia’s roll-out in Europe – not plain sailing

Sweetener Sweet Spot: Avoidance vs Indulgence

Massive growth in use of low kilojoule sweeteners

Stevia-containing beverages no longer have a bitter aftertaste

Stevia sweetener approved in Europe

Cargill unveils tripartite approach to reduced calorie beverages