The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued letters of no objection to GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for stevia-based Reb A at 95 percent purity or above in December and since then, companies have been looking for ways to assure customers about the quality of their own brands of the sweetener.
Head of international marketing at PureCircle Angus Flood told FoodNavigator-USA.com that its partnership with Cerilliant for determining purity and consistent quality of its PureVia Reb A ingredient should prove useful for large and small companies alike.
He said that even the largest companies would most likely be seeking external, trustworthy certification of purity and quality at the moment, considering how recently Reb A has been recognized as a viable ingredient.
“It could be for a small company that doesn’t have a full-blown lab – or for large companies that don’t yet have the capability or familiarity with Reb A,” Flood said.
He added that although each batch of Reb A supplied to a company would come with PureCircle's own certification of purity, its partnership with Cerilliant would allow customers to gain that external seal of quality approval.
Sweeteners and sugar reduction
Meanwhile, Flood explained that in the few months since FDA GRAS for Reb A, the company has been looking at ways to incorporate the sweetener into different food and beverage applications – and the range of interest and possibilities is broader than PureCircle had initially envisaged.
“First we thought that stevia would be a percentage of the sweetener market,” he said, “But in addition, there are companies who have said that they want to reduce sugar. So it’s not just innovation; it’s renovation. The timing could not be more perfect for us.”
This ‘perfect timing’ for Reb-A, he explained, is due to companies increasingly focusing on sugar and salt reduction strategies, largely as part of a drive from international governments to tackle the global diabetes epidemic.
“Sugar reduction is a number one priority for companies at the moment,” said Flood.
Cargill & ChromaDex
A similar agreement for producing reference materials has recently been reached by Cargill with the company ChromaDex, which develops analytical standards for ingredients, to ensure quality and consistency of its Truvia sweetener.
ChromaDex has said it offers a range of stevia-related sweet compounds as analytical reference standards or research materials, and food and beverage companies can validate stevia-derived rebiana for use in consumer products.
The analytical tools are expected to be used by Cargill in its production process to make sure quality benchmarks are met, in much the same way as PureCircle plans to use Cerilliant’s materials.
Reb A, also known as Rebaudioside A and rebiana, is a high-intensity sweetener derived from the stevia leaf. It is said to be approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar.