The ingredient company, based in Canada and China, said the line at the company's Qingdao factory was originally built to process up to 500 metric ton (MT) of Rebaudioside A (rebiana) to a purity level of 80 percent. This would undergo further processing to reach 97 percent purity.
However, GLG said that recent modifications to the line using proprietary technology now make it capable of an output of 500 MT of 97 percent pure rebiana.
David Bishop, executive vice president, international affairs, at GLG told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “The higher the purity level of Rebaudioside A, the closer the taste profile of sugar may be matched.
“This production line was, from the beginning, able to produce rebiana (RA97), but not 500 metric tons.
“It was originally designed to take RA60 (60 percent purity) and “re-crystallize” the product to the level of approximately RA80, (80 percent purity) and the startup capacity was announced in the spring of 2008 as 500 MT of RA80.
“If higher levels are required, further processing is required, and at each step, volume of finished product is lost.
“With recent upgrade modifications, we have increased the capacity of rebiana or RA97 to 500 MT.”
Stevia extracts reportedly have a licorice or bitter aftertaste.
However, Bishop added that its proprietary technology allows them to “remove the bitter components of the stevia leaf, maximizing the sweet taste of Rebaudioside A at 97% pure or rebiana.”
GLG has just begun operations at two new facilities located in the cities of Mingguang and Dongtai in China.
Now it said its engineers have also completed the design for an additional 2,000 MT capacity line of rebiana to be built before the end of 2009.
Bishop added: “These new lines will most likely be built at Dongtai or split between Dongtai (Jiangsu Province) and Mingguang (Anhui Province).
“These decisions will be made within the next couple of months.”
In December the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued no objection letters to both Merisant and Cargill for their rebiana at 95 percent purity or above, to have GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for use in food and drink.
At the same time, GLG announced self-affirmed GRAS of its product based on analysis which it says shows that its RA97 is of the same molecular structure and quality as rebiana.