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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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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

I've used " best stevia" from Lef.org for the last 4 years with no problems. Tastes good no after taste no side effects. Just pure stevia.

Anonymous

01/24/2015 - 2:47pm

Eat anything, drink anything, smoke, live dangerously.
But only in moderation, that's the key.
The body can and will assimilate anything in time as long as it is in small doses.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Exercise, make love, live your life, let the other guy worry about gluten free foods.
By the way, I love to make bread and I add extra gluten into the flour to get more elasticity in the dough.
ha ha ha ha

Anonymous

01/06/2015 - 10:55pm

The commenter that said they and their past generations have used Stevia has probably used it close to or in its natural state. I believe they have had a good experience with it. But the stuff here is so refined. All I know is I feel sick when I use it. I have tried it in foods already mixed that way and bought it separate from a good company and added it myself. Either way I feel sick. Also, the after taste is something I don't care for.

Anonymous

12/30/2014 - 8:52am

Stevia should not be consumed by people that are allergic to certain plants, Dandelions for example.

Anonymous

12/24/2014 - 12:30am

I'm not sure what people consider "pure." I was first introduced to Stevia in the early 80's. It was a very dark brown thick liquid. I thought it was pretty nasty. It left a major after taste. I am guessing that earlier Stevia was a more pure form? Now it is highly refined. I can't think that any product that has been altered should be consumed.

Anonymous

12/23/2014 - 5:35pm

For one thing Soy milk and all soy products unless organic,are probably GMO.. The FDA only tests GMO's for 90- days.. If you don't get sick after eating GMO 's in 90 days they are said to be safe. Do you know of anyone who got cancer after smoking only 90 days?? Rats in tests of GMO's have elevated rates of cancer in two year tests done outside the US. If no one has done tests on stevia products, proceed at your own risk.. Also sugar is cancer fuel. Restrict your usage as much as possible...

Anonymous

12/18/2014 - 6:58pm

It is true that there were many studies linking steviol a Reb A and other steviol glycoside building block and potential metabolite, to toxicity and cancer. It was found that steviol is not a major breakdown product during metabolism, which alleviated a lot of the FDA's concerns.

To be clear, the FDA GRAS process does not result in "approval". The sole burden of safety is placed squarely on the companies selling the ingredient. The FDA just simply has no questions at this time.

Is it safer because it is natural? I suppose the same argument could be made for cocaine or snake venom, but natural and safe are not synonymous, despite the growing popular belief to the contrary.

Anonymous

12/17/2014 - 3:32pm

Stevia in silk soy milk. I have been drinking and using silk soy for years and all of a sudden I was having sever stomach pain. They had started using that sweetener recently in their product. Thought I had another ulcer. After drinking it for a few weeks I knew something was wrong with what I was ingesting. Checked all labels on everything I had been eating. Looked at soy milk and saw that it was sweetened with rebA stevia. Needless to say, I stopped using it and dumped it down sink! After a few days, stomach pain gone!! Now I buy unsweetened everything just to be safe. I don't need anymore health problems. Just use sugar, honey or anything that you have used before without side effects. Use less and exercise more. AND read labels before you buy. Very annoying but worth it.

Anonymous

12/17/2014 - 2:04pm

Are you speaking seriously? It is new to me that stevia is not totally approved by FDA . How do you know , for example , that figs or pears or sugar from cane do not have harmful effects to our health?.- In spite of there are probably hundreds of studies pointing good things and bad (at least in case of sugar of cane) things, that they cause to our health , as far as I know , there is no study from the FDA , that has spent public money to approve or not those foods for human consumption. For only one reason . They do not need. They have been eaten by hundreds of years . They do not need to prove that they are bad to health. It only need a formal study ( with public money), if it should appear any indication that their consumption have some bad effects to our health.
That is the stevia case . In South America it have been consumed for millenniums. Its consumption is allowed in Japan , China , and I do not know if exist any other country than the States ( please tell me if exists) , where the stevia is regulated. I am from Paraguay and can say you , with the most absolute security , it will be good to your health . It was consumed by my grand grand father , my grand father , my father , me and my children .

MIGUEL ANGEL BERTONI

Anonymous

12/12/2014 - 8:13am

Forget the artificial sweeteners and forget sugar. Use HONEY, which is one of the most natural and good-for-you sweeteners on earth! Read Labels and stay away from HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), which is in everything! Even canned vegetables! READ LABELS, use honey and you'll be alright!!

Anonymous

12/06/2014 - 10:53am

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