Is Stevia Safe?

A. This year, a few noncaloric sweeteners made from an extract of the Stevia rebaudiana plant arrived on grocery-store shelves. The stevia plant has a long history of use as a sweetener in South America. These new sweeteners—sold under brand names like Truvia and PureVia—include a highly purified extract of stevia called Rebaudioside A (a.k.a. Rebiana or Reb A). Reb A is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not raise blood sugar.

Until December 2008, stevia and its derivatives could be sold in the U.S. only as dietary supplements, due to safety concerns. In the 1980s, animal studies linked stevia with adverse effects on fertility and reproductive development and possible genetic mutations. But in 2008, the makers of Truvia and PureVia submitted research to the Food and Drug Administration regarding Reb A’s safety and petitioned for it to become a generally regarded as safe (GRAS) ingredient.

The FDA affirmed the GRAS status, but did not change the previous ruling on stevia. “Reb A is different than whole-leaf stevia or [other] stevia extracts, which can only be sold as dietary supplements,” says FDA spokesperson Michael Herndon. “Nobody has provided the FDA with evidence that whole-leaf stevia is safe.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group, believes that the Reb A’s GRAS status was granted prematurely. “In the past, FDA protocol required repeated testing in two separate animal species prior to approval, but in this case it didn’t,” says David Schardt, nutrition expert with CSPI. “We are not warning people to avoid Reb A, but the public should be aware that the FDA did not follow all the usual safeguards.”

Bottom Line: The FDA considers Reb A a safe sugar substitute, but has not approved other forms of stevia. If you want to use stevia, we suggest sticking with Reb A (look for it on the ingredient label).

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07/29/2015 - 7:40am

A year ago I heard how bad sugar is for you. It was actually called evil. I heard bad things about aspartame and other sweeteners too. So I gave up sugar and all the other sweeteners. And I started using Splenda, until I started hearing bad things about that to. Everyone was on the Stevia bandwagon. So I started using Stevia. Now after reading this I don't know what to use anymore? In comparing all of the sweetners, do you think that Stevia is still the best choice? This is getting really ridiculous. Nothing is safe anymore and we end up using the wrong thing for lack of a choice. What to do?


07/25/2015 - 3:16pm

The big problem with the Stevia you buy in the stores is that it is not Stevia. For some reason they feel they need to add things they call "all natural" which are not natural at all. Most have added bulking agents made from corn which is the most genetically modified product on Earth. I use a natural product I get from which comes in a small jar of powder, has no added ingredients, and is so powerful it is 300 times as sweet as processed sugar. It does cost $25 but so far one jar has lasted almost a year for sweeting my coffee. The only problem I had was to learn not to use too much. It does not have the bitter aftertaste of the brand name products and desolves completely. I am a type 1 diabetic and my first attempt at using a store bought brand name product produced hives. Thankfully I did more research and discovered it was the additives that caused the problems.


07/14/2015 - 9:26am

Stevia leaf extract is found in those 100 calorie yogurts and it tastes awful. Reminds me od Sucaryl, if you remember that.


07/11/2015 - 10:42am

I was really surprised to taste stevia and found it to taste really good.I love sugar and just found out I have high sugar and am now on medication.I was so happy to find Stevia on the store shelves.I can now enjoy the sweeter things now,like my cereal.


06/23/2015 - 9:26pm

I use stevia, of course I had to get use to the taste. To me it reminds me of a fruit sweet ,I recommend the powered kind , I just couldn’t get liquid right, I love it not side effect I been using it for years, and will continue , I addicted to sugar , thank God for stevia. 


06/16/2015 - 10:30am

Pure Stevia powder (Reb A) works for me. Just Stevia, not in combination with anything else.


06/13/2015 - 5:26pm

I just learned that my body cannot break down Stevia and it caused a HUGE crazy rash on my legs that itches beyond tolerance :(


06/01/2015 - 1:45pm

I simply do not like Stevia. It has a strange flavor, not exactly sweet. I believe that the body knows if something is good for you or not (besides reading the label), and I believe that my body is telling me not to use Stevia. I purchased a very large box of Stevia and am now struggling with whether I should give it away, or toss it. Splenda (which may not be safe either), has a much better flavor.


05/10/2015 - 10:38am

Personally I think more studies need to be done on Stevia extracts; the FDA has done numerous studies on other low or no cal sweeteners. Labeling Stevia as a natural sweetener is not entirely true, it has been modified to extract the bitter aftertaste. Until now it has been labelled as a GRAS product and as a result has not been tested by the FDA. I am proceeding with caution.


05/03/2015 - 9:29pm

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