News about stevia

The beverage and food industries have long sought the perfect sweetener. Regular use of standard table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup rots teeth, leads to obesity and contributes to diabetes.

The FDA, under pressure from the powerful sugar and artificial sweetener lobby, has issued a warning letter to Celestial Seasonings for using a popular natural sweetener. The letter indicates the FDA classifies the herb stevia as “unsafe,” even though it is a main staple sweetener in China and Japan and has been used without negative health effects for at least 400 years.

In the letter, the agency aggressively condemns the use of the herb, noting that “enforcement action may include seizure of violative products.” The FDA claims no evidence has been provided to the agency regarding the herb’s safety, but federal records reveal they have received results from more than a thousand scientific studies regarding stevia, and all but one verify its safety.

In contrast, nearly half the results of studies on the artificial sweetener aspartame, previously owned by Monsanto, indicate serious health concerns, yet it is one of the most commonly used and profitable sweeteners in the U.S. The Organic Consumers Association has verified the FDA has strengthened enforcement of stevia imports and updated a document that mandates detainment of imported products containing stevia.

The beverage and food industries have long sought the perfect sweetener. Regular use of standard table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup rots teeth, leads to obesity and contributes to diabetes. Chemical companies have concocted a plethora of synthetic sugar alternatives such as saccharin and aspartame that have been linked to everything from cancer to neurological disorders.

Despite the FDA’s claims and prohibitions, Coca-Cola and Cargill announced recently that they have “developed” the perfect natural sweetener. The product is stevia, of course, a zero calorie plant-based sweetener that has been used for hundreds of years. In fact, 40 percent of the sweeteners consumed in Japan are derivatives of stevia. In the U.S., stevia has been hidden from the public by mysterious labeling requirements which have kept consumers in the dark about its health and flavor benefits, likely the result of lobbying of the FDA by synthetic sweetener producers.

Coca-Cola and Cargill plan to market the patented version of stevia, called Rebiana, as the perfect natural sweetener, by removing some of the bitter aftertaste.

 

Resource: www.organicconsumers.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 5, October/November 2007.

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