Brussels, Belgium: 14 November 2011
The International Stevia Council, the authoritative voice for the stevia industry, applauds the final approval of the European Commission’s Regulation to authorize the use of steviol glycosides as a non-caloric sweetener in the European market.
Maria Teresa Scardigli, the Council’s Executive Director, said: “The final hurdle in the regulatory process for steviol glycosides – the scrutiny of the regulation by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers – has been cleared.” The regulation has been formally adopted on 11 November and will enter into force twenty days after publication in the EU Official Journal, which occurred on 12 November.
The regulation can be found here. As a result, consumers across Europe will be able to enjoy products sweetened by steviol glycosides as early as 2 December 2011.
Steviol glycosides or purified stevia extracts are derived from the Stevia plant - a small shrub native to South America. As a member of the largest family of plants, Asteraceae or the "sunflower family", stevia is related to herbs and vegetables such as chamomile, tarragon, endive and lettuce.
Leading global food safety experts, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have established that steviol glycosides are safe for all populations to consume and steviol glycosides are a suitable sweetening options for people with diabetes.
Carl Horn, President of the International Stevia Council, said: “This is a major step forward for consumer choice in Europe. Steviol glycosides are derived from a natural source, the stevia plant, and are zero-calorie. These two characteristics are key attributes for consumers searching for “better for me” products in their efforts to lead healthier life styles and manage weight. In the coming weeks and months, consumers will begin to see new products sweetened with stevia appearing on the shelves in European supermarkets. This will include a wide range of goods, including yoghurts, cereals, beverages, soft drinks, confectionary, chocolate and table top sweeteners”.
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 the United States.
-------------------------- About the International Stevia Council -------------------------------------
The International Stevia Council is a global trade association representing the interests of companies that process, manufacture and/or market stevia sweetener products. The International Stevia Council is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit organization incorporated under the law of the State of Delaware in the United States (US). The Council was created in July 2010 by eleven founding members.
The International Stevia Council is managed by its staff in its Global Office in Brussels (Belgium) and its US office in Washington DC (USA).
Stevia is a plant of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family whose leaves have been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. Extracts of the stevia leaf have been available as food additives (sweeteners) and/or dietary supplements in many countries around the world.