Stevia, a natural sweetener from plant extracts of Stevia rebaudiana is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. The food industry is interested in this substance for years, but Stevia has long been suspected of causing cancer. The European Commission has now decided that the substance is safe after the European authority for food safety (EFSA) had allayed health concerns to Stevia in 20101. The regulation (EU) No 1131/2011 introducing the new sweetener shall become effective early December 2011. The new additive will be listed under number E 960. Furthermore the use of additives in food will soon become even safer and more transparent by adoption of two new legislations.
A new natural sweetener is finally approved to be used as additive in the EU. The sweetener is made from the leaves of the in Paraguay domestic plant Stevia rebaudiana and is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Thus, Stevia could be use for example in the manufacturing of low-calorie beverages. The food industry wants to use the substance in soft drinks, yogurt, cereals and chocolate. The new additive will be listed under number E 960. One of the reasons for this approval is the “need for new, reduced-calorie products” according to the EU.
On November 11th the European Commission formally adopted the regulation which allows the use of steviol glycosides as a sweetener for foods and beverages in the 27 member states. The regulation, which was published November 12th in the EU Official Journal, becomes effective December 2nd after member states had already granted approval during the summer. According to the EU, the EFSA has verified the safety of the substance. Stevia has long been suspected to be a possible carcinogenic and genotoxic substance.

Food additives are defined as […]