Frequently Asked Questions
What is stevia and where does it come from?
Stevia is a plant of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, the leaves of which have been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. Extracts from the stevia leaf have been available as food additives (sweeteners) and/or dietary supplements in many countries around the world.
What is the relationship between stevia, stevia extracts, Steviol glycosides and Rebaudioside A?
The term stevia refers to a preparation (powder or liquid) of dried stevia leaves. The leaves contain sweet components called Steviol glycosides - including but not limited to Rebaudioside A, Stevioside, Rebaudiosides B, C, D, F, Steviolbioside, Rubusoside and Dulcoside A. Preparations from the stevia leaf may be extracted to contain a mixture of Steviol glycosides, a concentrated mix of Steviol glycosides or a single concentrated Steviol glycoside. These are named accordingly and can be used as a sugar substitute to sweeten foods and beverages and as a tabletop sweetener.
How are stevia extracts made?
Stevia extracts are made by water extraction and further refining of the sweet components of the stevia leaf.
Are stevia extracts safe; are there any side effects; do they cause any allergies?
The safety of stevia extracts has been extensively reviewed and scientifically proven by numerous international organizations, such as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Studies of stevia extracts clearly support the safety of these ingredients. Further, clinical studies show that stevia extracts meeting purity criteria established by JECFA have no effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose response, indicating that stevia extracts are safe for use by persons with diabetes.
Over the last two years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated it has no questions regarding the conclusion of expert panels that Rebaudioside A is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as a general purpose sweetener.
To date, the FDA has stated that it has no questions in response to a number of separate stevia extract GRAS notifications. There are no known side effects or allergies from the use of stevia extracts in foods and beverages.
Are stevia extracts soluble?
Stevia extracts have excellent solubility in a wide range of applications.
Are stevia extracts heat stable, photo stable and stable under all pH conditions?
Stevia extracts are extremely heat, photo and pH stable under a wide range of processing conditions and have exhibited excellent shelf stability.
Are stevia extracts safe for consumption by diabetics?
Do they affect blood sugar levels? What is their Glycemic Index (GI)?
Research has shown that stevia extracts do not affect blood glucose levels or interfere with insulin. With effectively zero calories, stevia extracts offer people with diabetes greater variety and flexibility in budgeting total calorie intake and assisting with weight management. Stevia extracts do not have an effect on GI, at the levels of use.
Can stevia extracts be used in any kind of food and beverage?
Are there restrictions in usage?
How do they interact with other sweeteners?
Stevia extracts can be used in a wide variety of food and beverage applications. Individual usages and use levels may vary depending on the country. They act synergistically when used in combination with other sweeteners.
How sweet are stevia extracts vs. sugar and other intense sweeteners? Is there a simple way to measure the sweetness of stevia extracts?
Stevia extracts can be from 50 - 450 times sweeter than sugar, depending on the application and amount and/or extract used. A simple way to measure the sweetness would be a sensory comparison with the sweetness of sugar in a water solution.
Where can I find products made with stevia extracts?
Hundreds of new products are being launched each year made with stevia extracts across a wide range of countries and products from table top sweeteners to beverages. Stevia extracts have become particularly common in Asia, South America and now the United States and now in India, you may order online on www.steviabiotech.com
Are stevia extracts natural?
Yes, stevia extracts are natural. However, the definition and labeling requirements regarding "natural" may vary among countries.
How many calories do stevia extracts contribute?
Stevia extracts contribute effectively zero calories.