US Pharmacopeia (USP) has developed a set of new reference standards for stevia-derived sweeteners Reb A and stevioside for inclusion in the Food Chemical Codex (FCC).
Interest in the use of Reb A in food and beverages in the US has increased sharply following the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) letters of no objection to GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for Reb A – also known as rebaudioside A or rebiana – at 95 percent purity or above.
The reference standards for Reb A and stevioside are authenticated pure chemicals that food and beverage manufacturers as well as producers can use to substantiate the quality of their ingredients. This helps to protect against low-quality and potentially adulterated ingredients, thereby helping to ensure food safety.
Vice president of food, dietary supplement and excipient standards at USP James Griffiths said: “As these ingredients are produced all over the world in widely disparate facilities, their authenticity, quality and purity cannot be taken for granted. It is thus important for ingredient producers who want to safeguard their products to demonstrate the quality of their ingredients to their customers. USP is well poised and committed to providing useful tools for enabling interested parties to readily verify new stevia-based sweeteners.”
The company added that the use of an authenticated reference material allows for a “rapid and unbiased decision” for quality checks and regulators.
A private agreement for producing reference materials was reached in November between Cargill and ChromaDex, which develops analytical standards for ingredients, to ensure quality and consistency of its Truvia Reb A sweetener, and stevia supplier PureCircle partnered with Cerilliant in March to provide analytical tools to ensure quality benchmarks are met in the production of its PureVia-brand Reb A.
But USP said that its process differs from these reference standard providers because it has been developed “through an open and transparent process with independent experts”.
USP has said that its new standards are available now, although the written FCC testing standard for high-purity Reb A is expected to be released on August 31, 2009.
USP is a private, non-profit, standards-setting organization with the aim of helping to ensure the quality, safety, and benefit of medicines and foods. USP says its standards are recognized and used worldwide.