FDA Supports Safety of Select Steviol Glycosides

In June 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it has no questions regarding the conclusion of an expert panel on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status of a steviol glycoside extract with high rebaudioside A content for use as a tabletop sweetener.   FDA announced in December 2008 that it had no questions regarding the conclusion of expert panels on the Generally Recognized As Safe status of rebaudioside A for use as general purpose sweetener in foods and beverages.  

"The Calorie Control Council's national consumer survey shows that the majority of Americans want more low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages from which to choose," said Lyn O'Brien Nabors, President of the Calorie Control Council. "The Council welcomes the addition of steviol glycosides to help meet consumer demand."  

In order for a new food or beverage ingredient to enter the U.S. food supply, the ingredient must either be a FDA approved food additive or GRAS.  The quality and quantity of scientific evidence required for a substance to achieve GRAS status are the same as for FDA food additive approval.  For GRAS, however, there is a general knowledge requirement and acceptance of that knowledge by qualified scientists.  Publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal is the mechanism normally used to establish that the necessary scientific information is generally available.

Worldwide, steviol glycosides are approved in many countries, including Mexico, China, Russia and Australia and the safety of these sweeteners is supported by the World Health Organization's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives.

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