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History of stevia

The Guarani Indians of South America added stevia leaves to their infusions of plants to soften them. In Brazil and Paraguay, they have been used for centuries in cooking. In Latin America, traditional herbal medicine considers stevia as a hypoglycemic, hypotensive, diuretic and cardiotonic.It was still necessary to wait until the beginning of the twentieth century to really start to take interest in the steviosides of the plant, which have a power 100 to 300 times higher than sugar without any calories. In the early 1970s, Japan banned the use of artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin) because the authorities feared their negative effects on human health. At the same time, a Japanese consortium was developing a method for extracting glucosides from stevia. The Japanese state then allowed the stevia extract as a food sweetener. Its use has spread rapidly in Asia and South America. It has also been approved in Australia and New Zealand since 2008 and is now present in several agri-food products: from soy sauce to soft drinks to chewing gum, tortillas and rice cakes. French Agency for Sanitary Safety of Foods (AFSSA) has issued a favorable opinion for the use of rebaudioside A (one of the stevia molecules) as a food additive for a period of 2 years. In April 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ruled that steviosides were safe as food additives.

In the USA

Stevia is marketed as a supplement, but it is not approved as a sweetener or food additive in this country. On the other hand, some multinationals have submitted applications for their patented stevia-based molecule, a scientific file in support. In December 2008, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were given the go-ahead by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to incorporate Truvia® into their products, respectively. These products are also marketed by their respective manufacturers as a sweetener. you can add yourself to drinks and foods.

And in Canada?

For the moment, as in the United States, the sale of the raw plant and its extracts is permitted as a natural health product, but not as an additive in processed foods. Health Canada is prepared to revise this position if the food industry makes an appropriately documented application for approval to add stevia extract to the permitted additives. However, since September 2009, stevia and its extracts are permitted, under certain conditions. conditions, as a medicinal and non-medicinal ingredient in natural health products. Health Canada explains this difference by the fact that the patterns of use of foods and natural health products are different: foods are generally consumed in large quantities, which is not the case with natural health products.