The Food and Drug Administration last month announced approval of a new zero-calorie sweetener, Rebaudioside A (Reb A), derived from the stevia plant. The FDA concluded that Reb A, under the minimum specification of 95 percent, is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for use in beverages, food and tabletop sweeteners.
Beverage manufacturers, such as Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. have been eagerly awaiting the approval of Reb A and plan to launch several new drinks that use the natural, zero-calorie sweetener. Bakery manufacturers have yet to announce plans to use the sweetener, but the ingredient is bake-stable according to PureCircle, the largest supplier world-wide of high-purity Reb A.
The London-based company has partnered with Cargill Inc. to distribute Reb A in the United States and has initiated promotional efforts to make the sweetener more readily available to food manufacturers, such as bakery and dairy companies.
“The importance of GRAS status for high-purity Reb A cannot be overstated,” said Magomet Malsagov, PureCircle C.E.O., in a company release. “This marks the opening of the largest market for Reb A. Food and drink manufacturers will now be ale to use it as a sweetener ingredient either as a complement to sugar or as a healthy substitute for synthetic sweeteners.”
Stevia is a sweetener that already exists in the marketplace as a dietary supplement, but manufacturers make a distinction for new FDA-approved Reb A or rebiana. Both come from the leaves of the stevia plant, but Reb A is a high-purity extract produced to food-grade specification. Steviol glycocides are the sweet components of the stevia leaf, and Reb A is reportedly the best-tasting of the steviol glycocides for use in food production.