International Stevia Council

Stevia – the Plant-Based Sweetener

In the media, you sometimes see stories about stevia and the naturalness of this sweetener. The International Stevia Council (ISC), the authoritative voice of the stevia industry, would like to clarify some of the issues relating to natural.

There are many reasons why steviol glycosides, the sweet extracts from the stevia plant, provide a solution to consumers who are looking for a sweetener from a natural source.

"Steviol glycosides are found in the leaves of the stevia plant and are the sweet compounds that occur naturally in the leaves of the stevia plant. Therefore steviol glycosides are a plant-based sweetener."

Secondly, the sweetness from the stevia plant is extracted in the same manner as many other similar extracted products. The sweetness found in the plant is released by steeping dried leaves in water, filtering and separating the liquid from the leaves and stems. In the last steps, the plant extract is further purified with either water or food grade alcohol – all minimal and conventional plant extraction methods.

Thirdly, the term ‘natural’ has no single harmonized definition in the USA or the EU and varies from country to country. For example, milk cannot be labelled as natural in the EU but everyone understands that is of natural origin since it comes from the cow. Similarly for stevia, the labelling and packaging rules established at national levels (1) in some European countries allow food and beverage manufacturers using stevia in their products to use the following references on the package and in the marketing of the product (2): ‘steviol glycosides occur naturally in stevia leaves’, ‘with sweetener from natural origin’, and ‘with sweetener from the stevia plant’.

All of this demonstrates that steviol glycosides come from the stevia plant and are therefore of natural origin. Recent consumer surveys carried out by some of ISC’s members showed that there is a high understanding and acceptance of the naturalness of stevia by consumers in Europe.

1 Guidelines for labeling and marketing of product with steviol glycosides have been established in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece and Luxembourg.

2 Please note that these terminologies can be used only in the product pack and in the marketing material but cannot be used in the ’ingredient information’, where only the following words can be used : ‘Sweetener : steviol glycosides’ or ’Sweetener : E 960’ based on the requirements of the EU Regulation 1131/2011 on steviol glycosides:

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