Stevia leaves gain approval in the EU

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31 Aug 2017 --- EU Member States recently agreed that infusions made from stevia leaves now can be sold in European countries with general food safety rules applying. It is now established that stevia leaves have been sold and consumed to a significant degree within the EU before 1997, which means it is no longer seen as a Novel Food. The new legislation applies for tea, herbal and fruit infusions prepared with leaves from stevia leaves.

Thomas Backelin, Deputy Managing Director at The Real Stevia Company told FoodIngredientsFirst: “Stevia extracts are already approved all around the world and around 6 billion people live in areas where stevia extracts are an approved part of the sweetener toolbox. Stevia leaves can be used freely in many places such as South America, China and India. The recent EU decision is really just a limited adoption of what the rest of the world has already seen that the stevia leaf is a healthy opportunity for everyone.”

“The food and beverage industry, as well as consumers, are looking at fighting unhealthy living habits, causing worry, distress and suffering. More and better natural calorie free options are an important tool for success. Stevia leaves used in tea, herbal and fruit infusions are not considered an additive and therefore do not require an E number and as they are natural the marketing can focus on the pure leaves which will shed light on stevia’s natural origin,” he explains. 

“The stevia industry is still young and innovation won't stop here,” claims Backelin. “More resilient, better yielding and cleaner tasting stevia plant varieties are in the pipeline. When it comes to stevia extracts, a more efficient separation of the sweet constituents of the stevia leaf will lead to cost savings and continued taste improvements. The innovation of products with stevia infusions will definitely increase, especially in the consumer category as natural alternatives are highly demanded.”

“This is really good news for everyone who works with providing consumers with healthy and natural alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners. We are delighted to strengthen our range of stevia extracts with our own Paraguayan stevia leaves, as it opens for many new exciting products and markets,” adds Backelin. 

“The approval of leaves is very significant as stevia extract is currently not allowed for use in organic products. Our vision is to produce all our stevia plants organically and this is therefore very important for us,” he notes. 

Stevia extract (steviol glycosides) is approved in the majority of the food categories in the EU. The new regulation regarding stevia leaves does not affect the prior approval of the stevia extract.

The Real Stevia Company provides sustainable stevia leaves and extracts to global food producers. The company believes in a world where people can choose sustainably sweetened products without health implications. The Real Stevia Company delivers a socially and environmentally sustainable product, helping to raise Paraguayan farmers’ living standards, while meeting the quality and safety requirements of the food industry. 

FoodIngredientsFirst's sister website NutritionInsight has today reported on how stevia leaf extracts have the potential to terminate chronic Lyme disease, you can read the full story here

By Elizabeth Green 

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