This week Coca-Cola announced plans to launch a drinks range made with the zero-calorie natural sweetener stevia, despite the fact that this would violate US Food and Drug Administration regulation prohibiting its use as an ingredient in food and beverages.
At present the sweetener, which derives from the plant stevia, can only be sold as a “dietary supplement” in the US. For well over a decade, the FDA has kept the product off the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list of approved food and beverage ingredients, an action which some argue is geared to protect profits for producers of the artificial sweetener aspartame.
Natural News has argued that if Coca-Cola launches the drink range prior to getting the go ahead from the FDA, the authority will be forced to confiscate all products, or it could lose credibility as a food and beverage regulator, having threatened smaller stevia companies for years, confiscated imported stevia products and ordered the destruction of stevia recipe books.
Stevia-derived sweeteners have long been approved and used in food and beverage products in around a dozen countries in Latin America, Asia and other regions. It is estimated that stevia products now account for 40 – 50 percent of the sweetener market in Japan, where it is used in products that include Diet Coke and Wrigley’s sugar-free gum.