More companies move into stevia market

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Stevia, Food and drug administration

A flurry of activity has followed the FDA no objection letters for the stevia-derived sweetener, Reb A, to be used in food and beverages as two companies announce self-affirmed GRAS.

Blue California said it has completed its GRAS (generally recognized as safe) self-affirmation for its Reb A 97 percent sweetener Good&Sweet.

And GLG Life Tech Corporation also announced that it has completed the necessary steps to declare self-affirmed GRAS for its Rebpure product which contains 97 percent pure Reb A stevia extract.

Their announcements came within hours of news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had no objection to rebiana, (Reb A) at 95 percent purity or above, having GRAS status. Self affirmed GRAS does not require a response from the FDA.

The no objection was in response to notifications from Merisant Company and Cargill, which submitted evidence to show that the natural, zero calorie sweetener is safe for use in the food supply.

Blue California said it began the GRAS self-affirmation process in February and completed it on December 15.

Cecilia McCollum, Blue California’s executive vice president, said: “GRAS self affirmation by an Expert Panel is a legal process (if all the FDA requirements are met) in order to determine if a product is safe to use as a food ingredient.

“We have not decided yet if we are going to file a submission with the FDA or not.

“The stevia market in general and the Reb A market in particular is big enough to accommodate many suppliers of this ingredient.

“Our Good&sweet ingredient is no less than 97 percent and we produce a 99 percent purity as well.”

She added that the company sources the stevia leaf, produces stevia extract, then isolates and purifies the sweet compound Reb A.

Meanwhile GLG said that a notification would be filed with the FDA, following its GRAS self-affirmation.

The company said that key to its self-affirmation was that the molecular structure of Rebpure has been “proven to match the molecular structure of rebiana”, ​which the FDA decision related to.

During the process, GLG said it worked closely with ChromaDex, which develops analytical standards for ingredients, to perform a characterization study on GLG's Rebpure.

Cargill recently entered into an agreement with ChromaDex to ensure quality and consistency of individual sweet components of stevia.

Exploring the stevia market

Another company, Sunwin International Neutraceuticals, which produces stevia in China, also entered the ring. Its stevia brand OnlySweet is already sold as a nutritional supplement in US.

Sunwin spokesman, Jeff Reynolds, said: "We are confident that our high grade stevia extracts meet the FDA standards, and we are taking the steps to affirm this.

“The US food and beverage industry represents a vast new market for Sunwin and we intend to rapidly explore opportunities for expansion into this area."

Meanwhile the Malaysian company PureCircle, said its Reb A was central to Merisant and Cargill’s submissions to the FDA.

Peter Milsted, PureCircle sales and marketing director, told FoodNavigator: “It is essential for the development of this industry that all Reb A manufacturers have to comply with the FDAs' requirements. The only thing of importance is that manufacturers who claim to be able to manufacture to FDA specifications, actually can."

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