Monday, October 27, 2008

Care For More No-Calorie Sweeteners?

Are you aware about you healthy lifestyle diet? Are we having shortage of no-calorie sweeteners? These products have been in the market for years. In fact, The FDA has approved five artificial ones, namely:

Aspartame: Brand names include NutraSweet and Equal.
Sucralose: Brand name is Splenda.

Saccharin: Brand names include Sweet'N Low, Sweet Twin, and Necta Sweet.
Acesulfame-K: Brand names include Sunett and Sweet One.
Neotame: Approved for use as an ingredient in a wide variety of foods including baked goods, soft drinks, chewing gum, jams, and syrups.

But brace yourself for the arrival of a new player in the field of sweeteners. Under the brand name Truvia, this new sweetener is derived from stevia, a shrub common to South America but also grown in Asia. It's been used for centuries as a sweetener in South America and Japan.

While stevia may not be new in those countries, FDA has considered it an unsafe food additive and has instructed its agents to seize the plant and food containing stevia imported into the country. However, the FDA allowed stevia as a dietary supplement, despite its predictably confusing results for consumers.

Truvia, on the other hand, is not settling for a supplement status. It is a new stevia product developed by Cargill and Coca-Cola and is set to debut later this year as a tabletop sweetener and ingredient in certain Coca-Cola products.

According to Ann Tucker, Cargill's communications director, Truvia differs from existing artificial sweeteners because it’s natural, and it's supported by extensive safety studies funded by Cargill and Coca-Cola. Based on these studies, Truvia didn’t affect blood pressure in healthy people or blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Further tests in rats show no effects on reproduction, fertility, or other health problems.

The FDA said it will review Truvia’s case to be considered “generally recognized as safe,” which would pave the way for it to become the first stevia product allowed as a food additive in the U.S.

David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is cautiously optimistic due to safety issues.
“We’ve always told consumers you're not going to drop dead if you use it to sweeten your tea,” Schardt said. “But there is concern about using it as a food additive, putting it into a lot of products that are sold to millions of people.”
Providing competition is Pepsi which is planning to put its own highly purified, zero-calorie, all-natural stevia sweetener in various new products after it’s approved by the FDA.

Another company in Seattle called Zevia is already marketing Zevia, a carbonated dietary supplement containing stevia. Zevia is touted as “the world’s only all natural sugar-free alternative to diet soda.” But Zevia remains a dietary supplement.
Since there are many blends of stevia available as dietary supplement, a spokesman from Cargill Health and Nutrition said they cannot comment on all the variations and only know that “we consistently offer a safe, pure, and consistent product.”

Schardt said Truvia’s research may not apply to other stevia products, which is based on a particular pure extract, and that it doesn’t necessarily apply to something else that’s not quite the same. “So that’s an issue that I guess FDA is going to have to address,” conclude Schardt.

Many consumers believe that stevia as a natural product should have been in the country in a purified, not crude form, a long time ago. But politics and big business stopped it until they could find a way to take a portion of it and patent it. That is why they keep the lid on importing poor plain stevia.

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