Stevia pioneer recounts first encounter

This content item was originally published on, a William Reed online publication.

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Jim May of SweetLeaf tells how he came across the sweet leaves from Paraguay almost three decades before they captured the imagination of the mainstream food industry.

Staking his claim as the first person to introduce stevia into the United States, the ‘father of stevia’ recalls his wife’s reaction when she learned he had invested everything they had in South American leaves – and his struggle to bring them to the market.

Although major food first made headlines when they received GRAS no objection letters from the FDA in late 2008, May says he had already quietly obtained the go-ahead – and is confident that stevia, extracted without chemicals, has the potential to revolutionise sweet foods.

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