Monday, September 28, 2009


Sweet sensation is much liked by majority of the population in the world and consumption of sugar from cane or beets is invariably curtailed for those affected by diabetes. Similarly weight watchers, looking for reduced calorie intake also shun sugar in their diet as much as possible. Though there was a time when such consumers have to depend on synthetic sweeteners like Saccharine, Aspartame, Acesulfamate etc, advent of new generation sweeteners derived from natural sources which include Sucralose, Erythrytol, Sorbitol, Stevia plant, etc has obviated the need to use artificial chemicals. Sweetener material obtained from Stevia plant(Steviol glycosides), one of the ancient plant sources for sweetening foods in South America, recommends itself as a safe one since it was being used for centuries without any reported ill effects.

Though Stevia sweeteners were cleared for use in many countries, the US did not permit its use by the food industry for long, probably because of lobbying from the manufacturers of synthetic sweeteners. Paradoxically, it was allowed to be sold as a supplement for general use! Ultimately it was allowed some time back under GRAS egime, enabling the food industry to launch many products. "Nine months after the Food and Drug Administration proclaimed that two zero-calorie sweeteners derived from the stevia plant were Generally Regarded As Safe, stevia is bigger than ever. The food industry has introduced more than 110 stevia-based products since then, and stevia sales hit $95 million by July — up from $21 million for all of 2008".

Probably one of the reasons for the lukewarm response from the consumers may be due to the reluctance of authorities to give Stevia sugar unconditional clearance and lack of clarity on its safety. Also the slight after taste perceptible when Stevia sugar is used in products may be a hindering factor for which food industry will have find a technological solution.

1 comment:

yodasmith said...

I use Sweetleaf Stevia Plus in my friut smoothies, and it is yummy! It's nice to know it's good for me too!