Stevia sweetener approved in Europe

In a move sure to shake up the global sweetening industry, steviol glycosides have been approved for use in foods sold in the European Union.

The appropriate regulatory bodies—the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) — agree that the sweetening compound is safe for all populations to consume and is a suitable sweetening option for diabetics.

Commonly used as a sweetener in food and beverage products throughout Americas and Asia, steviol glycosides are sweetening compounds extracted from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana. They are considered as natural and free of calories.

The formal EU adoption was announced on November 11 and published in the Official Journal of the EU. As early as December 2, EU consumers will be allowed to purchase products sweetened with steviol glycosides.

Having anticipated the EU approval for months, major stevia suppliers are already poised to launch stevia-sweetened products with EU food manufacturers.

Cargill (Minneapolis), supplier of Truvia brand stevia, has signed distribution agreements with the sugar companies Azucarera (Spain), Eridania (Italy) CristalCo (Daddy; France), and the Silver Spoon Company (UK and Ireland).

GLG Life Tech Corp (Vancouver), another global stevia producer, has established distribution agreements with Caldic Ingredients (the Netherlands), (the Netherlands), Emilio Pena (EPSA; Spain); Gusto Faravelli (Italy), Keyser & Mackay (Belgium), Nordmann, Rassman (Germany), and PK Chemicals (Denmark).

Earlier this year, Chicago-based stevia supplier PureCircle opened up a European headquarters in London.

“This is a major step forward for consumer choice in Europe,” said Carl Horn, president of the International Stevia Council. “…These two characteristics are key attributes for consumers searching for ‘better for me’ products in their efforts to lead healthier life styles and manage weight. In the coming weeks and months, consumers will begin to see new products sweetened with stevia appearing on the shelves in European supermarkets. This will include a wide range of goods, including yoghurts, cereals, beverages, soft drinks, confectionary, chocolate, and table top sweeteners.”

Related reading: