Stevia Receives GRAS Status in the United States
The FDA approved Stevia this week as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe). This means that as soon as you finish reading this post you will start to see Stevia based sweeteners in products all over America.
Stevia is a plant which produces a sweeter-than-sugar flavor but with zero calories. It also doesn’t spike blood sugar. The plant itself cannot be trade marked or patented but companies have been extracting the sweet part of the plant and creating trade marked and patented brands of sweetener with which to sweeten foods and drinks. On its own, Stevia has a licorice after taste that many people find objectionable in their sweets—but the processed stuff eliminates that.
The major beverage companies, Coke and Pepsi, have been working on Stevia based drinks for years. During that time the FDA had banned Stevia in America from being sold as anything but a form of vitamin supplement. Coincidentally, the major beverage companies had product ready to sell on December 17, the day the FDA approved Stevia.
Everyone is happy. PETA is glad that Stevia no longer needs to be tested on animals. Stevia companies are free as their products are no longer limited in how and where they can be sold. And bakers are excited because this means they can purchase Stevia based sweetening products and use them in baking instead of sugar. Expect to see “natural” drinks and snacks sweetened with Truvia, PureVia, and any number of other Stevia based sweeteners in 2009.
I believe Stevia could be a good thing. I even invested in it (but not in the soda companies). However, I have yet to try Stevia and wonder if eating Stevia based sweets instead of sugar based junk food will help sugar addicts get off sugar. We’ll soon see. I’m going to get some Stevia sweetened products and review them. In fact, I might be able to get some and use it to make Christmas cookies.
Whatever happens, hopefully it’s for the best. Maybe in the future we’ll look back at this time and wonder how in the world anyone could have eaten so much sugar “back then” even though we knew it was so bad for us. Won’t that be the day!