Now Health gets FDA GRAS for enzyme-modified stevia

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Stevia

Now Health Group has received a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) letter of no objection that its enzyme-modified organic stevia ingredient is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), the company has said.

Now Health has been producing its Stevia FSE (full spectrum extract) enzyme-modified ingredient for use in dietary supplements for more than 25 years, but gaining FDA GRAS status means it can now enter the burgeoning market for reduced calorie foods and beverages in the United States.

The company’s private label manager Peter Sokoloski told FoodNavigator-USA that Stevia FSE was extracted from the whole stevia leaf, rather than from an isolated fraction, allowing for a reduction in the bitter or lingering aftertaste sometimes associated with stevia sweeteners.

“Ours is a full spectrum extract,”​ he said. “Others concentrate the Reb A, which also appears to concentrate the bitter, lingering aftertaste.”

Sokoloski added that the enzyme modification is a natural process, which is part of the extraction and purification stages.

“Enzyme-treated Stevia FSE is a “complex” that offers the full spectrum of steviosides and rebaudiosides, rather than just isolating a single component,”​ he said. “…This makes it different from virtually every other stevia product on the market.”

The company said the sweetener is available as a bulk powder for a wide range of applications.

The specific calorie reduction level that could be achieved by using the ingredient would depend on a manufacturer’s individual requirements, Sokoloski said.

He said: “Some manufacturers have looked at reducing overall sugar in their formulations by half, so they can still retain the sugary taste but reduce overall calories. Others have tried to remove sugar entirely...Realistically you need to identify the target level of sweetness, start on the low end and increase the input level to match to your target.”

According to Mintel's Global New Products Database, 157 stevia-containing foods and drinks have been launched on the US market to date – 15 in 2008, 30 in 2009, 73 in 2010, and 39 so far this year.

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