Steviol glycosides approved for use in Canada

12/5/2012

Health Canada has approved the use of steviol glycosides – a low calorie, all-natural sweetener – in certain foods and beverages.

The decision was made public on Nov. 30, after the department conducted an extensive safety assessment, concluding “there are no health or safety concerns associated with the use of steviol glycosides in the prescribed applications.”

Prior to last month’s decision, stevia was only available as a natural health product in this country, and was not permitted as a food additive in foods and beverages.

The sweetener is derived from a plant called stevia, native to Paraguay and Brazil. It came under attack in recent years after studies suggested the sweetener has negative effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular and renal systems.

In the U.S., the FDA has “not objected” to the use of a handful of “highly refined Stevia preparations in food products.” But, as the agency quickly points out, the products are not stevia, but a highly purified product.

Health Canada, for its part, previously didn’t allow stevia or its extracts to be used as a food additive because of insufficient evidence supporting its safety, according to a 2009 article in The Globe and Mail.

PureCircle, which describes itself as “the world's leading producer of high purity stevia ingredients,” welcomed Health Canada’s recent approval.

“Stevia will play an important role in addressing consumer interest in lower calorie products and natural ingredients, as well as to help offset rising commodity costs for our customers,” said Sidd Purkayastha, VP of business development and regulatory affairs for PureCircle.

A full list of which foods and beverages may now contain steviol glycosides can be found on Health Canada’s website.

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