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Fenchem to introduce stevia sweetener in US

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 07-Jan-2010

Chinese ingredients supplier Fenchem has said it intends to make its stevia-based Reb A sweetener available in the United States.

Reb A has been variously dubbed the ‘holy grail’ of sweeteners and part of a ‘third generation’ of sweeteners due to its natural, zero-calorie properties. Manufacturers are keen to retain a natural designation for their products: It was the number one label claim in 2008, appearing on 23 percent of new product labels, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database.

Fenchem said its sweetener, which it intends to market under the brand name NeuVia, complies with the JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) specifications for stevia-derived sweeteners. It will use the US Pharmacopeia standard as published in the Food Chemical Codex to verify that NeuVia contains 95 to 99 percent rebaudioside A, also known as Reb A, Fenchem said.

Reb A is just one of the sweet components of the stevia leaf, said to have the closest taste to sugar, and the company added that it also intends to make others of these steviol glycosides available.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several letters of non-objection to companies producing Reb A, saying it considers their sweeteners to be GRAS (generally recognized as safe). The first of these were issued to Cargill and the Whole Earth Sweetener Company, a subsidiary of Merisant, in December 2008, but other suppliers have since also received FDA GRAS notifications.

However, Fenchem has not said that it has prepared a scientific dossier for its ingredient to be considered by the FDA. No one at the company was available for comment prior to publication.

European potential

Meanwhile, Fenchem has said it intends to market Reb A in Europe too, following the recent approval of the ingredient in France, and the expectation that it is likely to be approved in the European Union within the next two years.

“With the foreseeing opening of our new European office in Czech Republic in early 2010, we are confident that our high grade stevia extracts will have a successful development in the EU market,” the company said.

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