Rebaudioside side effects, safety, benefits
September 1 2017

Rebaudioside A is a sweet tasting steviol glycoside extracted and purified from Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni). It appears to be safe to use by humans and no significant side effects have yet been reported.

Overview: the history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2008.
Steviol glycosides can currently be used as a food ingredient in only a handful of countries. Questions on specifications, safety and special population effects have prevented steviol glycosides from obtaining a legal status permitting their use as a sweetener in most countries. A set of papers reporting results of research studies and reviews has been compiled in this Supplement to definitively answer unresolved questions. Specifically, recently completed studies on the general and reproductive toxicity of rebaudioside A corroborate studies carried out with purified steviol glycosides demonstrating safety at high dietary intake levels. Comparative metabolism studies provide further affirmation of the common metabolic pathway for all steviol glycosides and the common metabolism between rats and humans. Finally, clinical studies provide further evidence that purified rebaudioside A has no effect on either blood pressure or glucose homeostasis. This paper summarizes the information used to conclude that high purity rebaudioside A (Rebiana) produced to food-grade specifications and according to Good Manufacturing Practices is safe for human consumption under its intended conditions of use as a general purpose sweetener.

Effect on blood pressure, hypertension 
The hemodynamic effects of rebaudioside A in healthy adults with normal and low-normal blood pressure.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2008.
Rebaudioside A and stevioside are steviol glycosides extracted from the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and are used in several countries as food and beverage sweeteners. This randomized, double-blind trial evaluated the hemodynamic effects of 4weeks consumption of 1000mg/day rebaudioside A vs. placebo in 100 individuals with normal and low-normal systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Subjects were predominantly female (76%, rebaudioside A and 82%, placebo) with a mean age of approximately 41 (range 18-73) years. At baseline, mean resting, seated SBP/DBP was 110/70 mmHg and 110 /71 mmHg for the rebaudioside A and placebo groups, respectively. Compared with placebo, rebaudioside A did not significantly alter resting, seated SBP, DBP, mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR) or 24-h ambulatory blood pressures responses. These results indicate that consumption of as much as 1000mg/day of rebaudioside A produced no clinically important changes in blood pressure in healthy adults with normal and low-normal blood pressure.

A strong sustainability message and competitive pricing will be key to the long-term success of Reb A, according to PureCircle corporate VP supply chain Dom Wenninger. Reb A is likely to be fully competitive with sugar for global brands with global volume. Dom Wenninger illustrated the savings by comparing sugar and stevia prices. Sugar prices in 2009 in the US are about $0.77 per kilo while Steviol glycosides, which are 15 times sweeter than sugar, are $0.40 per kilo on an equivalent basis. The comparison may not be a favorable in all global markets since US sugar prices are higher than most. Following the decision in December 2008 by the US Food & Drug Administration to certify Reb A as Generally Recognized as Safe, he said, product development activity had been "intense." Dom Wenninger says, "To build on our continuing success, the global stevia industry must work together as a sustainable industry to tell the very positive story about stevia and the natural extraction methods used, which in many cases is supporting some of the poorest farming communities. At PureCircle, we have learned from other sweeteners that the key to a truly global success is to offer the sweetene r— Reb A — an all natural alternative to sugar with zero calories — at a fully competitive price at the earliest opportunity." He said PureCircle, which has offices in New Jersey, Switzerland and Malaysia, was in a strong position to achieve this thanks to its critical mass and its global strategic collaborations with companies such as Firmenich. "This is a monumental shift for the natural sweetener industry, which PureCircle is proud to lead," he added.

Use in France in 2010
Even though stevia is not yet approved as an ingredient in the EU, the French are taking advantage of a loophole that allows individual member states to approve ingredient use for a two-year window. Though the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has yet to offer an opinion on whether to approve Reb A and stevia glycosides, the move may help companies gain market share while waiting for final approval. Greensweet, the Auvergne-based company projects significant number of French product launches using Reb-A starting in 2010. The French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) approved Reb-A, but not stevia glycosides. Consensus is that France and the rest of the EU will wait for EFSA to approve the use of steviol glycosides some time in 2010.

“Consumer concerns regarding obesity and the growing demand for all-natural products bode well for Reb A to quickly gain market share,” says Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory Executive Director Stephen Rannekleiv. ”However, while success seems imminent, and we expect annual U.S. sales of Reb A to reach approximately $700 million within 2015, numerous hurdles must still be overcome.” Reb A is an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener derived from the stevia plant. The stevia plant contains several sweet tasting glycosides, but it’s been found that Reb A has the closest taste profile to sugar. Since approved by the FDA, interest in the sweetener has surged, and is being used in products such as fruit juices, enhanced waters and carbonated soft drinks. Beverage companies are particularly interested because they are facing lagging sales of full-calorie soft drinks, and soft drinks made with artificial sweeteners because of consumer concerns. Reb A would allow companies to develop natural, low-calorie products made without artificial sweeteners.

Companies that sell stevia extract products
Green Leaf Fields has 90 percent rebaudioside A or Reb-A. This company is based out of Kauai, Hawaii.
PureCircle may be the worlds largest, or one of the largest stevia plant producers. PureCircle supplies both Coca-Cola and Pepsi companies with stevia extracts. The company has stevia plantations in China, Kenya and Paraguay, and Vietnam.
    In 2010 PureCircle South America SA (PCSA) and the Cooperativa Colonias Unidas signed a contract for the production and supply of stevia leaves. The event was held at the Cooperative headquarters in Obligado and attended by managers and executives from both companies. Both PCSA and the Cooperative are forging a strong commitment to develop the production of proprietary varieties of high-quality stevia, to meet the growing international demand for the all-natural, zero-calorie, stevia-based sweetener. The opening of and access to large markets such as the USA, France, Australia, Switzerland and Mexico, has increased the need for major development in the supply of dry leaves.

PureVia is PepsiCo's brand of Reb A sweetener, supplied by Pure Circle. Pepsi has introduced PureVia to its SoBe drinks and an orange juice called Trop50.
Reb A is made by Pure Circle company.
Rebiana is the trade name for a zero-calorie sweetener containing mainly rebaudioside A.
SweetLeaf has its own brand of stevia extract in packets and dissolving tablets.
Truvia is the consumer brand for Rebiana marketed by Cargill and developed jointly with The Coca-Cola Company. Coke is using stevia (under the name Truvia) in its Odwalla juice line and several flavors of Vitamin Water, along with Sprite Green.

Truvia is supposed to be made from stevia and it's said to have no aftertaste. But the word "made" is what has me nervous. My concern is that because there is some manufacture involved, there may be some harmful side effects. I'm wondering what your take on it is.
   We have not seen significant human studies with Truvia itself, but stevia is a safe sweetener.

Q. I recently got a newsletter regarding the new "natural" zero-calorie sweetener. Can you comment on this? "Both Truvia and PureVia are extracts of stevia leaves. Stevia leaves have been used for centuries by other cultures, particularly in South America, to sweeten beverages. But until recently, nobody has been using a purified concentrated extract of the leaves, which is known as stevia or stevioside. The Coke and Pepsi people rushed Truvia and PureVia through FDA approval, but many health advocacy organizations, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have voiced concerns that there are not significant studies to back up the extracts’ safety. Morever, some of the studies that have been published on stevia extracts are a little scary. For example, a recent study by Brazilian researchers found that adding stevia extracts to the drinking water of lab rats caused DNA breakage in cells in the animals' blood, liver, spleen, and brain. (Food Chem Toxical, 2007) DNA damage may increase cancer risk. Until significantly more studies are published that prove definitely that stevia is safe, we recommend that you stick to a zero-calorie sweetener that has been repeatedly proven to be safe."
   A. We disagree. the small amounts of stevia extracts do not appear to cause any problems and are safer than sugar. A person should have a moderate intake, and as long as small to moderate amounts are used, we have no reason to suspect any health issues.