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Stevia added to EU list.

Steviol glycosides (E960) have recently been added to the European Union (EU) list of permitted sweeteners. This means that, for the first time, there is available a non-caloric high potency sweetener derived from nature.

Steviol glycosides are extracted From the shrub Stevia rebaudiana that is native to Paraguay, where the leaves have a history of use as a sweetener for over a century. The most abundant of these sweet molecules in the wild-type plant is stevioside, but the less-plentiful rebaudiosideA (reb A) is widely held to be the better tasting. The taste preference for reb A has driven conventional plant breeding programmes to increasing the yield of this compound. Stevia is widely cultivated in South America, but much of the world's commercial supply currently originates in Asia.

Stevia has been the subject of biological and toxicological investigations for more than 50 years. The earliest of these studies were conducted with crude or poorly defined test materials and results created some confusion. Today, there is a large number of studies on stevia in the scientific literature which confirm its safety. In 2008, JECFA established a permanent Acceptable Daily Intake (ADD for purified steviol glycosides of 4 mg/kg bodyweight/day (expressed as steviol) and validated the safety of purified steviol glycosides for use as a food and beverage sweetener. In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also concluded that steviol glycosides are safe. By 2011, European legislation was published with permitted addition rates, expressed as steviol equivalence, for defined categories of foodstuffs.

While flavoured drinks represent the largest market opportunity for any high-potency sweetener, the steviol glycosides are suited to much wider categories. Dairy products, sugar-free confectionery, snacks and desserts in general have all seen product launches. Stevia-based table-top sweeteners are particularly successful and are presented in powder, tablet or liquid form.

The steviol glycosides exhibit tastes in addition to sweetness. These non-sweet side tastes include sensations commonly described as bitter and liquorice. These tastes are intrinsic to steviol glycosides and cannot be eliminated by further refining. The optimum amount to use is product and flavour dependent and normally established by trial and error. Optimum formulations mainly contain other sweeteners in combination with the steviol glycosides.

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Title Annotation:INGREDIENTS
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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