Cargill began releasing information about its newest low calorie sweetener in May 2008. Advertisements are now appearing on television for the brand, Truvia. But what is Truvia?
Truvia (pronounced Tru-VEE-a) is the trademarked brand name of a natural sweetener made from the leaves of a South American plant. The stevia plant, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, is native to Paraguay. It’s common name is sweetleaf. Naturally about 300 times sweeter than sugar, it has been used as a sweetener for over 300 years. The commercially extracted sweetener developed by Cargill and Coca-Cola Company from the stevia plant is called rebiana.
Rebiana was only allowed to be marketed in the United States as a supplement until 2008, when the Food and Drug Administration relaxed the ruling. It is now allowed as a food product.
Rebiana is an industry response to a strong consumer demand for a natural, zero-calorie way to sweeten foods and beverages.
Although the stevia plant is native to Paraguay it is also grown commercially in China. Sweeteners prepared in large quantities from stevia have been in use in Japan for over 30 years, and comprise 40% of that country’s low or zero-calorie sweeteners.
The leaves of stevia are harvested at their peak sugar season. Once dried, they are steeped in a process much like making tea. This brew is then purified to make a food-grade sweetener. The resulting rebiana is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. Rebiana has a clean, sweet taste. There is some indication that at higher concentrations a slight licorice aftertaste is experienced.
Research published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology clearly establishes the safety of rebiana for use as a natural, zero-calorie sweetener in food and beverages. A rigorous safety evaluation program – the first of its kind to evaluate rebiana – addressed unresolved questions and verified the safety of the product for use as a general purpose sweetener. The research program included metabolism, safety, intake, stability and human studies that complement the body of previously published research on purified steviol glycosides, the sweet components of the stevia leaf.
In July 2008, commuters in New York City were given free samples of iced tea and lemonade sweetened with Truvia as they passed through Rockefeller Center. Comments were generally positive, such as “Good flavor; surprisingly no aftertaste.” A greenhouse demonstration of the plants was also available.
On December 17, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved Truvia for sale as a food product. Cargill spokesman Marcelo Montero stated, “Given the extensive research conducted to assure the safety of Truvia rebiana, Cargill has tremendous confidence in the product. The FDA letter further validates what the science has concluded- that Truvia rebiana is safe for use for all consumers.”
Some recipes using Truvia are available at the Truvia web site.
Since this information was released, I have learned that Truvia may contain a large amount of erythritol, another plant-based sugar. Erythritol is safe and much cheaper than the pricey Truvia. It can be purchased in a pure form. You can read more about this at All-Star Health
portions of this article taken from news releases of Cargill, May 15, 2008 Cargill introduces Truvia™
and December 17, 2008 Cargill Receives Official Notification from Fda Supporting the Safety of Truvia™ Rebiana
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