The FDA has had a ban on stevia as a food additive for decades over studies that suggest a concern over steviol, a breakdown product of stevia, which might cause genetic mutations.
Coca Cola and Cargill would like to change that so stevia can become the sweetener du jour in processed foods and beverages. Cargill’s truvia is currently on shelves in New York as a test run and will soon be available at stores nationwide as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners (aka splenda and others).
The LA Times has an interesting piece on the safety concerns. It seems the earlier studies are “outdated” and the latest evidence shows little concern for harm. Many countries allow stevia in their products already. I am sure many Americans would prefer something like stevia in processed foods because of aversions to artificial sweeteners or the preference for “natural”.
From the LA Times:
The eight studies published in Food and Chemical Toxicology last month went even further. One report showed no reproductive toxicity in rats exposed to the sweetener for two generations, and two human studies showed that 1,000 mg of rebaudioside A per day was safe for healthy adults as well as those with Type 2 diabetes. Rebaudioside A (dubbed Rebiana by Coca-Cola and Cargill) is “safe for human consumption,” three of the study authors wrote. They did not report on stevioside.
So it seems there is scientific support for safety of rebiana, but hold the stevioside for now. If you would like to see the studies yourself, follow this link. Of course, the deal with research is that study results contradict each other for years and that’s how real evidence builds. And pesky bias (as unintentional as it may be) exists – especially when researchers want to keep funding coming in. Researchers! Back me up on this…
Please post other links if you can download the studies for free from another website.
The bottom line: it is a personal decision if you want to use splenda or truvia or plain old sugar or honey or agave nectar… or… yada yada. But the bigger picture is always more important. If you are eating mostly healthy, whole foods (fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, legumes, lean protein foods, and whole grains) then there is little room left for the other stuff that might have rebiana added. Not a real reason to worry. However, if your cereal, bread, yogurt, oatmeal, diet sodas and other beverages, etc. etc. have it and these foods are overpowering the whole, natural foods… shift the focus on changing your overall diet and don’t worry about the kind of sweetener. You’ll consume less of it because you changed your diet. You’ll be better off.