Monk fruit or lo han guo is grown in the valleys and foothills of sub-tropical Asia. The fruit grows on vines and is about the size of an orange or large lemon. The fruit extract, also generally referred to as monk fruit or lo han guo, is about 200 times sweeter than sugar and is a natural zero-calorie sweetener. Extracts from lo han guo have long been used by local populations in southern China to treat colds, sore throats and minor stomach and intestinal complaints. Today, processors extract the natural sweetener from monk fruit by crushing the fruit and infusing it with hot water.
The results of numerous safety studies in animals and humans have shown that monk fruit is safe for its intended use in foods and beverages, such as baked goods, cereals, confections, dairy products, desserts, including ice cream, dressings and sauces and processed fruit.
In the US, monk fruit is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as a sweetener and flavor enhancer in foods and beverages, excluding meat and poultry products, and as a tabletop sweetener. In addition to the US and China, monk fruit is used in Japan to sweeten foods and beverages.
Scientific evidence supports monk fruit’s safety for use by the millions of consumers who seek to control their intake of carbohydrate-based sweeteners and calories. Because it is extracted from fruit, it meets consumer demand for products they perceive as natural and it offers a great taste without the calories of sugar. Monk fruit extract, under the brand name PUREFRUITTM, is available in the US.