Rebaudioside M is safe and can be added to the list of EU-approved steviol glycosides (E960), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded. The agency said this was the case provided 95% of its components were converted to steviol.
Stevia sweeteners derived from fermentation – without stevia plants – could be launched as early as 2016, according to Evolva Holding SA, the Swiss firm working on the technology with agri-giant Cargill.
All stevia glycosides are safe with respect to their genotoxic/carcinogenic potential, says a new review that seeks to silence doubts once and for all about the ingredient’s potential in food and beverage products.
Steviol glycosides produced by fermentation could be on the market in the coming years due to advances made by Swiss company Evolva and Californian R&D partner Abunda Nutrition, which it plans to acquire.
EUSTAS (European Stevia Association) president Professor Jan Guens says he is “very disappointed” by a decision taken by Cargill and Morita to remove a number of licensing application categories relating to use of steviol glycosides in food.
The French government has approved the use of stevia sweeteners with 97 per cent purity rebaudioside A (Reb A), officially opening up the first EU market for products containing the much-anticipated ingredient.
Interest in stevia has remained high in Germany despite the plant being outlawed under novel foods regulations in 2000; but fringe products may contain undeclared additives due to the lack of food checks.
Speakers at the first day of Stevia World have focused on the potential of stevia sweeteners as mainstream sugar replacers, as well as their role in tackling surging rates of diet related ill health, such as diabetes.