HealthCo: 2016 Science of Ingredients
Stevia FSE: A Unique And Markedly Different Stevia Sweetener
Despite stevia’s relatively recent arrival to the food and beverage marketplace, this exceptionally sweet herb has a very rich history. The earliest known use of stevia, according to documents stored at Paraguay’s National Archives, can be traced back to the mid-1800s when it was used by the indigenous Guarani natives. Known as kaa-he-e (sweet herb) it was initially used in medicinal preparations, in addition to a tea-like drink known as bitter mate. In 1931 French chemists Bridel and Lavielle, were the first to successfully isolate Stevioside and Rebaudioside A from the leaves of the dtevia plant. Approximately 40 years later during the 1970s, Japanese researchers successfully isolated individual dteviosides from stevia leaves; each one sharing the same dteviol molecule; nine have been discovered to date. From there, the popularity of Stevia evolved rapidly. Within 20 years it was universally accepted as Japan’s No. 1 sweetener. In the 1980s, stevia became available in the Natural Products marketplace, but could only be sold as a dietary supplement, not a sweetener.1 It wasn’t until 2008 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted stevia to be used as a food additive, and that was largely due to efforts by Coca Cola and Cargill to gain approval.2 The initial stevia offerings were highly processed extractions wit ha somewhat bitter aftertaste.
Stevia FSE is a unique, and markedly different stevia sweetener. While most stevia ingredients on the market have a bitter aftertaste, enzyme treated Stevia FSE provides a better-rounded sweetening profile that is ideal for numerous food applications. Stevia FSE utilizes the whole stevia leaf and is not an isolated fraction, like Reb A, which is said to require additional added substances to mask the bitter aftertaste. No flavorings or masking agents are used in stevia FSE because none are needed. The natural enzyme treatment enhances its organoleptic (sensory) properties. Stevia FSE is 60-100 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose). Stevia FSE is also NOP Certified Organic and kosher.
Since spring 2010, STEVIA FSE has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status after a comprehensive review of safety and toxicology data by an independent panel of scientists.3 Utilizing the platform of “general purpose non-nutritive sweetener for foods and beverages,” self-affirmed GRAS status allows manufacturers additional freedom to add Stevia FSE in a variety of foods and beverages ranging from baked goods to milk products, breakfast cereals, cheese, egg products, processed vegetables, soft candy, soups, snack foods, non-alcoholic beverages, imitation dairy products, hard candy, chewing gum, granulated sugar, and even seasonings and flavors.
The benefits of this natural herb extract are many. Stevia contains no calories and is therefore ideal for individuals conscious of their caloric intake. Additionally, stevia ranks extremely low on the glycemic index scale, a chart used to measure a food’s impact on insulin release following the consumption of food. As a result, stevia is appropriate for diabetics and those with compromised insulin activity.
Stevia is approximately 60 to 100 times sweeter than white, crystalline “table” sugar. Perhaps most appealing, Stevia is highly versatile and can be used in practically any application that calls for conventional sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This provides both economic and health benefits when used in bulk, beverage, and other food production settings.
No natural or artificial low calorie sweeteners or added flavors, of any kind are used during the manufacturing process, nor are they added to the finished product. Erythritol is a corn-based sweetener commonly used in many Reb A stevia products, but not used in Life Balance Stevia Sweetener. Stevia FSE is 100 percent vegetarian and vegan suitable, and free of common food allergens, including yeast, dairy, egg, gluten, wheat, soy, sugar, starch, salt, artificial colors, flavors or fragrances. In order to ensure the highest levels of purity, it is tested for heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria, and other potentially harmful contaminants. Life Balance Stevia Sweetener is both pH and temperature stable, making it ideal for use in many functional foods and beverages.
1 McCaleb, Rob (1997). “Controversial Products in the Natural Foods Market.” Herb Research Foundation.
2 “Stevia sweetener gets US FDA go-ahead”. Decision News Media SAS. 18 December 2008.
3 HealthCo Receives GRAS Status for STEVIA FSE New Hope 360 May 19, 2010 http://newhope360.com/supply-news-amp-analysis/healthco-receives-gras-status-stevia-fse.