SCIENCE SHORT

Stevia’s stability affected by light

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/Studio-Annika
© iStock/Studio-Annika

Related tags: Stevia, Sugar substitute

The stability of stevia’s sweet-tasting molecule rebaudioside A is adversely affected by light exposure, say researchers, but light-protective packaging could be the answer.

The researchers looked at how quickly the sweetener degraded when tested in stevia in water, citric and phosphate solutions to mimic real-life beverage applications, and as a function of ultraviolet light intensity.

Under dark conditions, reb-A in phosphate buffers was more susceptible to breakdown than in water and citrate buffers at both pH levels, they write, however, when exposed to UV light the reb-A molecules degraded around 10 times faster in citrate than in phosphate buffers at both pH levels.

The sensitivity of reb-A to UV light was greater in citrate solutions than in water or phosphate solutions.

Light exposure has an adverse effect on the stability of rebaudioside A. Proper formulations, light-protective packaging, and cool storage conditions are strategies that will improve the stability of rebaudioside A in food products,” ​write the researchers based at the US Auburn University.

The safety of stevia has not been called into question. A 2010 study tested its stability​ and found that although up to 70% of the compounds could be lost under extreme conditions (they looked at reb A and stevioside in soft drinks after 24, 48, and 72 hours of storage at 80 °C), at no point was the potentially toxic steviol aglycone detected.

Source: Journal of Food Science

Published online ahead of print20 February 2017 doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13667

“Stability of the Stevia-Derived Sweetener Rebaudioside A in Solution as Affected by Ultraviolet Light Exposure”

Authors: Jiewen Zhang and Leonard N. Bell

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