A report from Reuters Tue Sep 18, 2007 stated that the FDA has warned Hain Celestial Group Inc. by calling the natural herbal sweetener that they add to some of their teas “an unsafe food additive.”
Stevia, derived from a South American herb is 300 times sweeter than sugar but with no calories, is approved as a dietary supplement, but not as a food additive in the U.S.
This should not be surprise as the FDA and Health Canada both regard stevia as an herb but not as a food additive. As Wikipedia points out:
“In 1991, at the request of an anonymous complaint, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeled stevia as an “unsafe food additive” and restricted its import. The FDA’s stated reason was “toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety.” This ruling was controversial, as stevia proponents pointed out that this designation violated the FDA’s own guidelines under which any natural substance used prior to 1958 with no reported adverse effects should be generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”
Gee, I wonder who this anonymous complaint came from. An interesting comment on a blog at Dr. Mercola’s web site is insiteful:
“I’m far too stupid to wonder why it’s fine (stevia) when called one thing, yet potentially a destructive, nation-flattening weapon when used as a cheap, abundant sweetener that would coincidentally compete with the safe-as-mother’s-milk health chemicals like Splenda and Aspartame. ”
Agriculture Canada Wants to Grow Stevia
If stevia is so unsafe then why did the Canadian Brodacasting Corporation (CBC) state on it’s Market Place television program in February of 2000 that:
“Agriculture Canada is growing stevia. “We want to turn it into a crop, a viable crop for farmers in southwestern Ontario,” says Jim Brandle, a plant breeding specialist with Agriculture Canada.
…It has been embraced in Japan, where it’s used in soy sauce, sweet pickles and soft drinks. In Japan, Diet Coke has been sweetened with stevia. ”
The article points out that Linda Bonvie a New Jersey-based investigative journalist who’s written a book on stevia that on its cover asks ‘Is the FDA suppressing an ideal herbal sweetener?’
“I think there’s a lot at stake here … and when there’s big money at stake, strange things happen.” She stated, and “There’s been no consumer complaints or reports of ill effects due to stevia,” she says. “Not in health journals, not in government statistics, and not by consumers.
Stevia- Health Benefits
Wikipedia Balanced Report also states:
“…while newer studies find no safety issues…Other studies have shown stevia improves insulin sensitivity in ratsand may even promote additional insulin production, helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. ”
To sum up this herbal product that’s been used for decades with no reported toxicity is not allowed to compete on a level playing field with the big boys that make chemical sweeteners with known toxicity. Can you imagine what would happen if the general public was aware of safety and benefits of stevia compared to Nutrasweet/Equal (Aspartame) and Splenda.
There is faint hope but not complete because Coca Cola and Cargill are working on scientifically establishing the safety of the herb. You can bet though that it will not be the pure total herb from the plant but will be a patentable derivative. At least with heavyweight corporations like these they will be able to pay off the FDA because Coke is desperate for an alternative to expensive Nurtasweet.
Just think in the near future your local health food store will no longer be raided for their dangerous stevia because their will be a ‘patent FDA approved for your protection brand’ with higher prices. Then the sour view of the FDA on stevia will miraculously turn sweet.
For more information on Stevia go to these sites-
Dennis Cutforth is a researcher and writer with over 35 years experience in health-care sales, marketing and research in pharmaceuticals and natural health. Dennis will cut through all the propaganda and give you the real facts about what really works to make you healthier and happier. Visit his Blog at Better Life Blog.