Special edition: Natural sweeteners

Quality of stevia products ‘assured’, says new analysis

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Quality of stevia products ‘assured’, says new analysis

Related tags: Steviol glycosides, Stevia

The addition of steviol glycosides to a variety of food does not alter the quality or shelf-life of the products, says a new study.

Researchers from Belgium formulated a variety of products, including ice cream, full-fat and skimmed set yogurt, dry biscuits, and jam, using steviol glycosides to partially or totally replace sugar.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​,they state: “The stability of several steviol glycosides was tested in a diverse range of food categories. No sign of decomposition was found under any of the investigated circumstances.

“So, one can be assured that the addition of steviol glycosides to food will not alter the quality or the normal shelf life of the food.”

Stevia

Partial sugar replacement with stevia-based products has been touted as a good method of producing lower calorie products. At the IFT Annual Meeting and Expo in Las Vegas, Dr Mel Jackson, VP of science for Sweet Green Fields, told FoodNavigator-USA​: “Reb A and stevia extracts really work well with sucrose.

“It’s not completely eliminating sugar necessarily, but it’s about finding where the synergies are between stevia and sucrose.”

'Excellent and informative'

Commenting on the new paper, Dr Jackson told us: "It is refreshing but not unexpected to see more data coming out that further demonstrates the stability of stevia extracts in commercial processes that result in a larger variety of products than just beverages.

"This research collaboration has resulted in an excellent and informative  paper that continues along the path of assuring consumers and food manufacturers that stevia is indeed the viable alternative to full sugar products. 

"Not only do the researchers show excellent stability in in dairy beverages and foods at pasteurization temperatures, they also show excellent stability of a number of steviol glycoside combinations under prolonged times and temperatures typical of the product, and go further by demonstrating excellent stability under baking temperatures and times, including jams and cookies.

"This paper adds weight to the already significant evidence that indicates steviol glycosides have stability and therefore suitability as a sugar alternative in many foods.  

"I expect that this will result in further and much more varied 'right calorie' product rollouts in Europe, the US and the other growing number of countries where stevia is approved over the coming 12 months."

Stability

For the new study, the Belgium-based scientists assessed the stability of steviol glycosides in different food matrices. These included semi-skimmed milk, soy drink, fermented milk drink, ice cream, set yogurt, dry biscuits, and jam.

Led by Etienne Jooken from Catholic College Bruges-Ostend, the researchers found “no sign of decomposition of steviol glycosides […] in any of the samples”​.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1021/jf302261j
“Stability of Steviol Glycosides in Several Food Matrices”
Authors: E. Jooken, R. Amery, T. Struyf, B. Duquenne , J. Geuns, B. Meesschaert

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