An entirely different sort of update on FDA actions today: did anyone take notice that the FDA recently issued a "no objection" letter regarding stevia-based sweeteners? This is a an historic move because for many years, the FDA has fought against the US use of stevia, an herb-based sweetener (sugar substitute) "that does not adversely affect blood sugar levels — a boon for diabetics and hypoglycemics!"
Stevia had the misfortune of being relegated to the "alternative foods" and "dietary supplements" aisles rather than standing alongside popular chemical-based sweeteners like Splenda, Nutrasweet, and Sweet 'N Low.
In mid-December, the FDA finally acquiesced that stevia-based products are "generally regarded as safe" (the coveted "GRAS" classification that paves the way for mainstream acceptance). At the same time, the FDA also granted approval to two new products developed by — surprise, surprise — the Coca-Cola Company (Truvia) and PepsiCo (PureVia). Now that the Big Boys are selling stevia-based sweeteners, many are predicting "a flood of new (stevia-based) products in 2009." Coke and Pepsi are both coming out with new stevia-sweetened diet drinks.
What a coinkydink, ay? Last night the hubby and I were watching a documentary called "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and one of the quotes hit me over the head: Talking about General Motors and the other Automotive Giants, Joseph Romm said: "There's no question that people who control the marketplace today, ... have a strong incentive to discourage alternatives, except the alternatives that they, themselves control."
Right — which goes a long way in explaining why stevia is suddenly looking good to the FDA, with Coca Cola and Pepsi jumping into the game.
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Anyway, this is excellent news for us diabetics and hypoglycemics, as noted. I can personally attest to the fact that stevia is yummy and does not spike your blood sugar. A company called NuNaturals has been kindly sending me samples for a while now, and I am positively hooked on their Liquid Vanilla Stevia Extract — just a few drops in your morning latte, and heaven! Also, their More Fiber Baking Mix adds a nice natural sweetness AND some necessary bulk to gluten-free baked goods.
I can just imagine how delighted and yet how frustrated these "alternative" stevia players - NuNaturals and Sweet Leaf and the like - must feel right now. On the one hand, their product has finally gained mainstream acceptance. On the other hand, you've got Coke and Pepsi acting like they invented the stuff. From the Pepsi-backed PureVia website:
"We are dedicated to rewriting the rules of sweet by bringing you and your family perfectly natural and naturally pure ways to enjoy a healthy style of life."
Special thanks to the FDA.