Truvia and PureVia: The Controversy of Stevia

In our final view of Truvia and PureVia, we take a look at the political history of stevia – the base of rebiana, opinions of some of the major players in this debate and offer our final views on the subject.

NOTE: This article is the 3rd part of a series about Truvia and PureVia. You may want to read the first two parts to better understand this article:

Part 1: Truvia and PureVia – A Window to the Past or the Future?
Part 2: Truvia and PureVia – The Science

A History Spent in the Shadows

Stevia, before processing

Stevia, before processing

The plant stevia provides the rebiana sweetener found in both Truvia and PureVia.  Originally, stevia was used, in its whole leaf form, as a prized sweetener of the indigenous Guarani people throughout Paraguay in South America.  It did not find fame in the modern, western food supply until Japan began cultivating and using it in diet soft drinks (including Diet Coke) during the 1970s, a process that continues today.  Building on that success, stevia began to be sold throughout the world, including the United States, during the 1980s.  Its path from here has since become mired in controversy.

Stevia was officially banned from sale in the US as a sweetener in 1991, driven from the market after an anonymous safety petition led the FDA to conclude that it was an unsafe food additive.  The FDA has declined to release the petitioner’s affiliation, although it is suspected to be someone with links to aspartame – a popular artificial sweetener that had just come to market in the 1990s.

Because of the 1991 decision, an ‘Import Alert‘ was then issued by the FDA maintaining that information regarding stevia leaves – the same source of Truvia and PureVia – was [emphasis mine]:

“…inadequate to demonstrate its safety as a food additive or to affirm its status as GRAS” (GRAS = Generally Recognized as Safe, FDA speak for labeling that recognizes a product’s safety).

This position is at odds with just about every other natural food in existence.  Because the FDA has no mandate to test real foods, it makes little sense why this decision was made.  Any food ‘in common use’ before 1958 was automatically grandfathered into being deemed GRAS, and so – with stevia’s history of being safely used as a sweetener in South America for centuries – it clearly qualified.

We contacted the FDA but they declined to comment on this position.

A Change in Position

Japan's Truvia

Japan's Truvia

Stevia was completely banned from the United States until 1994, when the the Congress passed legislation that allowed stevia to be used solely as, ‘an herbal supplement’.   Interestingly though, the sweetener was still banned from being sold as a sweetener.  This contradictory stance established in 1994 - where stevia remained banned from sale as a sweetener but remained for sale as a supplement – continues clear into today.

The closest we can get to a followup opinion from the FDA on the matter doesn’t come for another 8 years.  From the FDA’s now discontinued magazine named, appropriately enough, “FDA Consumer Magazine“, this was the only other mention of stevia on the FDA’s website for almost 15 years [emphasis mine]:

Another product, stevia, is derived from a South American shrub. Though it can impart a sweet taste to foods, it cannot be sold as a sweetener because FDA considers it an unapproved food additive. “The safety of stevia has been questioned by published studies,” says Martha Peiperl, a consumer safety officer in FDA’s Office of Premarket Approval. “And no one has ever provided FDA with adequate evidence that the substance [stevia] is safe.” Under provisions of 1994 legislation, however, stevia can be sold as a “dietary supplement,” though it cannot be promoted as a sweetener.

Ms. Peiperl of the FDA is referring to the idea that one of the two sweeteners in stevia called steviocide, might cause mutations in the DNA of people who eat it regularly.  As we reported in our scientific review of rebiana, the studies that suggested stevia was mutagenic were widely dismissed because the amount of stevia required to cause the defect was so far in excess of what anyone could ever possibly consume.

They say OK to stevia

They say OK to stevia

Stranger still, after a large review of scientific literature, the World Health Organization declared in 2006 that stevia is completely safe and even potentially beneficial for people with hypertension (WHO).  That opinion was further codified at the 69th annual JEFCA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) conference (.pdf link), where stevia was recognized as being non-mutagenic.

Clearly, quite a few scientists could have “provided FDA with adequate evidence that the substance [stevia] is safe” in Ms. Peiperl’s words.  The only problem was that the FDA never asked to reevaluate stevia, for what are likely political reasons from what we have seen so far.

Another Policy Switch

In December 2008. the FDA opened yet another chapter in this debate and declared that rebaudioside A (rebiana) – the other sweetener found in stevia – was GRAS.  Somehow, ABC News broke this story:

From the official GRAS approval letter:

The subject of the notice is rebaudioside A purified from Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni. The notice informs FDA of the view of Cargill, Incorporated (Cargill) that rebaudioside A is GRAS, through scientific procedures, for use as a general-purpose sweetener in foods, excluding meat and poultry products, provided that food standards of identity do not preclude such use, at levels determined by current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).

Obviously aware of yet another policy contradiction, the FDA puts out a one-line statement in the GRAS notice about stevia, the plant that remains banned as a sweetener [emphasis mine]:

The rebaudioside A that is the subject of GRAS Notice No. GRN 000253 is a highly purified component of the stevia plant. As such, FDA notes that the GRAS notice for the use of a specific purified component of stevia, such as rebaudioside A, and FDA’s response do not necessarily apply to the uses of other stevia products.

The wording of this final statement here is especially interesting because the FDA is leaving the door open for yet further interpretation.  If this decision ‘does not necessarily apply’ to other uses of Stevia, companies that want to use stevia in their products may be able to petition the FDA for yet another policy change. Regardless, despite rebiana being approved as GRAS, stevia can still only be sold as a dietary supplement, not as a sweetener.

From the Peanut Gallery…

Nutrition Wonderland repeatedly tried to get in touch with different offices inside of the FDA to clarify their contradictory positions regarding stevia and rebiana but our calls were never returned.  Without a direct comment from the FDA, we can only speculate as to what was happening with regard to their policy – but that position really isn’t that hard to ascertain from the evidence.

How the mighty have fallen...

How the mighty have fallen...

Based on the financiers of the rebiana studies (Cargill and Coca-Cola), the speed with which this decision was made and the history of stevia, we are left to conclude that rebiana- and consequently Truvia and PureVia – were simply approved because of who petitioned the FDA.

Now, the FDA’s ruling does not mean that rebiana is not safe – but then again we don’t know that it is completely safe.  It’s hard what to know here.  We do know one thing though – with giants like Coca-Cola, Cargill, PepsiCo and Merisant banging at the FDA’s door, it becomes pretty obvious that there was little chance rebiana would be kept out of the market, regardless of what the science said.  The FDA’s position on stevia has never (well, post 1991 at least) sided with science.  This decision brings into question many of the other food additives that the FDA has approved, namely aspartame – whose makers may have been active in getting stevia banned.

Nutrition Wonderland also contacted the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a reputable food watchdog, who was cautiously optimistic about Truvia back in June 2008 in a WebMD article.  They have since dramatically reversed their position based largely upon new information from a report put out by UCLA showing why rebiana and stevia in general is unsafe.  You can view it below:

We read over its arguments as to why rebiana is unsafe in this report but they are not as convincing as CSPI would have you believe.  While rebiana is not fully tested, this report finds fault with nearly every study published to date on the subject of stevia.  Its hard to buy into the idea that this much bad science was performed.  Nutrition Wonderland has extreme doubts about the Truvia-sponsored science we thoroughly discussed in our earlier review but the safety of stevioside seems well proven, based on its use in Japan for over 30 years.  Additionally, this report may have been performed at the behest of CSPI itself, making us leery of its findings as much as we are leery of Cargill’s.

We contacted the CSPI repeatedly to make sense of their changing positions but they have not made a public statement to us regarding this situation.

Final Words about Stevia > Rebiana > Truvia/PureVia

In general with food, we see a destructive pattern with each refined product brought onto the market place.  Whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease while refined grains increase it.  The fructose in honey helps the body, while the fructose in HFCS has been linked to obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance.  Cold pressed natural oils dramatically reduce inflammation, while heavily refined hydrogenated oils promote inflammation – and chronic disease.  Why refined rebiana would be better for us than the whole leaf stevia has not been explained.

Cheers or Jeers?

Cheers or Jeers?

There is some reason to think extracts of stevia, specifically stevioside, could prove extremely beneficial in a refined form but Truvia and PureVia do not contain any of that material.  Both sweeteners are proprietary formulas containing the largely untested rebiana and large amounts of erythritol, another non-caloric sweetening agent.  In fact, by volume, Truvia and PureVia have more erythritol than they do rebiana.  There is still no science testing Truvia and PureVia themselves, which would show how these two sweeteners (rebiana and erythritol) metabolize together.

More than anything, Nutrition Wonderland strongly believes these sweeteners were developed so that the companies involved, especially Cargill and Merisant, could own the intellectual property behind stevia – in effect owning the food.  Cargill released some justification for all this trouble, if you don’t mind very corporate video:

It would have been far easier to just use stevia for commercial food production – but, since you cannot patent a natural food, this opportunity was overlooked in our opinion.  This pattern of using the intellectual property of food for profit is well established across the 21st century agribusiness industry, modeled after highly successful power plays by chemical giants in the sale of GMO seeds.

We have doubts about the sponsored science involved, doubts about the motive of this product in general and deep suspicions as to why stevia remains banned from the marketplace.  Truvia and PureVia may in fact be perfectly safe – and preliminary science shows that to be the case – but far more research on these new sweeteners is required.  Even still, we will probably never know the truth.  It is now the American public’s turn to be the guinea pigs for another agribusiness experiment.  You can easily opt out of this debate – as we are – by enjoying any of these safe sweetening options:

  • regular stevia sweetener ‘supplements’
  • blackstrap molasses (unrefined)
  • organic agave nectar
  • brown “turbinado” cane sugar (avoid brown sugar from sugar beets as they are now GMO)
  • Dave V.

    The science behind the introduction of products such as this will always be clouded by profit and certain private agendas from watchdog groups. The potential benefits for specific populations such as diabetics, or those focusing on weight loss or control, are obvious. The risks associated with both of these segments, outweight, no pun intended, the clouded risks associated with these sweeteners.

  • Dave V.

    The science behind the introduction of products such as this will always be clouded by profit and certain private agendas from watchdog groups. The potential benefits for specific populations such as diabetics, or those focusing on weight loss or control, are obvious. The risks associated with both of these segments, outweight, no pun intended, the clouded risks associated with these sweeteners.

  • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

    That’s a straw man argument Dave. It places the full responsibility of safety on the consumer, effectively arguing that the marketplace will eventually move to other products if this one is unsafe. If that’s your argument, why have an FDA at all?

    I agree that there will always be many hands in the pie, but I think we could set up a reasonable requirement whereby companies releasing food additive should have to demonstrate their safety with independent evaluations.

  • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

    That’s a straw man argument Dave. It places the full responsibility of safety on the consumer, effectively arguing that the marketplace will eventually move to other products if this one is unsafe. If that’s your argument, why have an FDA at all?

    I agree that there will always be many hands in the pie, but I think we could set up a reasonable requirement whereby companies releasing food additive should have to demonstrate their safety with independent evaluations.

  • http://enersanctum.com Eric

    Thank you so much for this insightful, transparent, balanced, and informative series. I was ecstatic when I heard about Sprite green, because I use stevia at home and thought this was a huge step in the right direction, but when I dug a little deeper I saw that they were using a “proprietary” stevia-based sweetener, which triggered my mental alarms, so to speak. Sure enough, it’s marketing to make people think it’s all stevia, when that’s just not the case.

    As an aside, my grandfather, Gilbert Carr, was head of the US Customs service in Hawaii, and was one of the Custom Service’s chief analytical chemists. When aspartame came out when I was a kid, he told me to never consume a Monsanto product, calling them a “wicked corporation” that basically owned the FDA. He died when I was a teenager, so I can’t ask him about these new things, but I’ve never trusted the FDA since then.

    I appreciate sites like yours that give me the information I need to either make a decision or look more deeply. I don’t really feel like being a human lab rat for big business.

  • http://enersanctum.com Eric

    Thank you so much for this insightful, transparent, balanced, and informative series. I was ecstatic when I heard about Sprite green, because I use stevia at home and thought this was a huge step in the right direction, but when I dug a little deeper I saw that they were using a “proprietary” stevia-based sweetener, which triggered my mental alarms, so to speak. Sure enough, it’s marketing to make people think it’s all stevia, when that’s just not the case.

    As an aside, my grandfather, Gilbert Carr, was head of the US Customs service in Hawaii, and was one of the Custom Service’s chief analytical chemists. When aspartame came out when I was a kid, he told me to never consume a Monsanto product, calling them a “wicked corporation” that basically owned the FDA. He died when I was a teenager, so I can’t ask him about these new things, but I’ve never trusted the FDA since then.

    I appreciate sites like yours that give me the information I need to either make a decision or look more deeply. I don’t really feel like being a human lab rat for big business.

  • SSF

    I’m sorry, but this sounds eerily similar to the paraben controversy. Long term use with no problems reported, one study with mutagenic claims pops up…so why is it okay to gloss over stevia’s study but parabens are vilified?

    It’s hypocritical of the FDA to allow the corporation-made alternatives, but it’s also hypocritical of the natural community to cherry pick data.

  • SSF

    I’m sorry, but this sounds eerily similar to the paraben controversy. Long term use with no problems reported, one study with mutagenic claims pops up…so why is it okay to gloss over stevia’s study but parabens are vilified?

    It’s hypocritical of the FDA to allow the corporation-made alternatives, but it’s also hypocritical of the natural community to cherry pick data.

  • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

    SSF –

    You should really check out our second installment in this series:
    http://nutritionwonderland.com/2009/02/science-truvia-and-purevia-rebiana/

    It covers all the available science on the subject and there is much to be desired there, no matter what side you take.

  • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

    SSF –

    You should really check out our second installment in this series:
    http://nutritionwonderland.com/2009/02/science-truvia-and-purevia-rebiana/

    It covers all the available science on the subject and there is much to be desired there, no matter what side you take.

  • Jenna

    I want food with SUGAR in it. SUGAR not, a derivitive of anything. PLAIN SUGAR PLEASE!!!!!!!

    Food companies trying to kill people for profit due to DIETING, when their additives are what makes everyone fat to begin with.

  • Jenna

    I want food with SUGAR in it. SUGAR not, a derivitive of anything. PLAIN SUGAR PLEASE!!!!!!!

    Food companies trying to kill people for profit due to DIETING, when their additives are what makes everyone fat to begin with.

  • Barbara k

    very interesting…I found this site/article because I have traced some wierd intestinal problems to using Purevia, which I erroneously thought would be a healthier sweetener. I found other people who have had the same experience.
    Not only is its composition suspect to me now, but this whole “big soda company” /”big chemical company”connection has my antenna up.
    I can tell you I won’t be using Purevia or Truvia again!!

  • Barbara k

    very interesting…I found this site/article because I have traced some wierd intestinal problems to using Purevia, which I erroneously thought would be a healthier sweetener. I found other people who have had the same experience.
    Not only is its composition suspect to me now, but this whole “big soda company” /”big chemical company”connection has my antenna up.
    I can tell you I won’t be using Purevia or Truvia again!!

  • Dana

    Wait a minute. We should avoid stevia because its safety is not certain, but you think we should eat sweeteners that are demonstrably dangerous instead? Dude, where is your head?

    Sucrose is roughly half and half glucose and fructose. Eaten with fat, the glucose raises insulin levels and the fructose molecules are transformed into molecules that serve as the central axis for triglycerides. (The dietary fat becomes the lipid molecules attached to the triglycerides.) Triglyceride is the form in which fat is stored in the adipose cells–you get the idea. I don’t care what the sugar industry says, sucrose AND high-fructose corn syrup are both implicated in obesity and diabetes and there is scads of research backing this up. HCFS, by the way, is very, very similar to sucrose in terms of glucose/fructose proportions.

    Fructose by itself is no solution. It’s not enough for a sweetener to be “low-glycemic.” All that means is it doesn’t produce much, if any, of an insulin response. Fructose is still implicated in fatty liver, which by the way is a dangerous health condition. This is why diabetic foods are being switched over from using fructose to using sucralose as their sweetener.

    I’ll give you blackstrap, because it’s so mineral-rich that LIMITED amounts of it may be useful in the diet. But you can get minerals from drinking bone broth. You don’t have to consume sugar along with them.

    The central issue here isn’t which sweetener is safe but that we’ve invoked a mass delusion in our society that we MUST have sweet food in order to live well. I am as much a victim of this as anybody. I’m well on my way to diabetes and I still can’t shake the notion that sweetness is a normal everyday part of my diet. So I use a little stevia, a little aspartame and a good bit of sucralose in those foods and beverages I consume that are sweet. It isn’t a perfect solution by any means. But the perfect solution is to dump the sweetness almost entirely. I don’t know if I will ever get there.

    • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

      Sweeteners are going to be consumed. While you may not eat them, others will. Categorically, you are correct that they are not good for you; but there are sweeteners you can use that are better than this untested product.

      • Sally

        If it tastes good, eat it!  Is my motto.  We are all destined to die anyways, so, if its by sweeteners or chemicals, so be it!  

        • JDintheOC

          Question is…how do you want to go?  Naturally or pushed off a cliff?

          • Green Dragon

            Well if you’re a fan of dying naturally, next time you get an infection, don’t take the antibiotics.

      • Igbo

        Can anyone let me know where to buy the Stevia plant? Thank you so much.

  • Dana

    Wait a minute. We should avoid stevia because its safety is not certain, but you think we should eat sweeteners that are demonstrably dangerous instead? Dude, where is your head?

    Sucrose is roughly half and half glucose and fructose. Eaten with fat, the glucose raises insulin levels and the fructose molecules are transformed into molecules that serve as the central axis for triglycerides. (The dietary fat becomes the lipid molecules attached to the triglycerides.) Triglyceride is the form in which fat is stored in the adipose cells–you get the idea. I don’t care what the sugar industry says, sucrose AND high-fructose corn syrup are both implicated in obesity and diabetes and there is scads of research backing this up. HCFS, by the way, is very, very similar to sucrose in terms of glucose/fructose proportions.

    Fructose by itself is no solution. It’s not enough for a sweetener to be “low-glycemic.” All that means is it doesn’t produce much, if any, of an insulin response. Fructose is still implicated in fatty liver, which by the way is a dangerous health condition. This is why diabetic foods are being switched over from using fructose to using sucralose as their sweetener.

    I’ll give you blackstrap, because it’s so mineral-rich that LIMITED amounts of it may be useful in the diet. But you can get minerals from drinking bone broth. You don’t have to consume sugar along with them.

    The central issue here isn’t which sweetener is safe but that we’ve invoked a mass delusion in our society that we MUST have sweet food in order to live well. I am as much a victim of this as anybody. I’m well on my way to diabetes and I still can’t shake the notion that sweetness is a normal everyday part of my diet. So I use a little stevia, a little aspartame and a good bit of sucralose in those foods and beverages I consume that are sweet. It isn’t a perfect solution by any means. But the perfect solution is to dump the sweetness almost entirely. I don’t know if I will ever get there.

    • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

      Sweeteners are going to be consumed. While you may not eat them, others will. Categorically, you are correct that they are not good for you; but there are sweeteners you can use that are better than this untested product.

  • Dana

    By the way, just because you suffer intestinal problems after eating a “natural sweetener” doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you. It just means you can’t digest the carbohydrate molecules in the sweetener. The same thing happens if you eat beans that have been prepared incorrectly–the big starches were not all broken down. Gas is a normal side-effect of eating carbs you can’t digest.

    Maybe we all need a refresher course in Nutrition 101, preferably not one funded by Big Ag/Pharma or by PETA, so we all have a better idea of what’s going on.

  • Dana

    By the way, just because you suffer intestinal problems after eating a “natural sweetener” doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you. It just means you can’t digest the carbohydrate molecules in the sweetener. The same thing happens if you eat beans that have been prepared incorrectly–the big starches were not all broken down. Gas is a normal side-effect of eating carbs you can’t digest.

    Maybe we all need a refresher course in Nutrition 101, preferably not one funded by Big Ag/Pharma or by PETA, so we all have a better idea of what’s going on.

  • Joanne Smith

    Very interesting analysis of the current situation with Truvia and Purevia. I hadn’t heard that the likely 1991′attack’ on Stevia was from the Aspartame people; I had heard that it was from the sugar cane/sugar beet lobby because they knew that it would affect their sales of sugar tremendously!

  • Joanne Smith

    Very interesting analysis of the current situation with Truvia and Purevia. I hadn’t heard that the likely 1991′attack’ on Stevia was from the Aspartame people; I had heard that it was from the sugar cane/sugar beet lobby because they knew that it would affect their sales of sugar tremendously!

  • Stef J

    The reason why FDA did not approve stevia as a food additive is because it is actually okay for you. It is so funny that the FDA will approve additives like sweet and low and splenda that is made chemically. It is proven that sweet and low and splenda will cause extreme dangerous effects on the body it is just America is not aware of it because they will not dare make it known public. Canada already banned those sweeteners from selling because they actually care about their people. Stevia is a plant! And yes I am sure if you consumed massive amounts of it it will have an adverse effect on the body but it is not addictive like splenda. Why do you think people who start consuming drinks with splenda seem to increase their intake more and more. Because it is addicting. Those sweeteners are very dangerous and really do not make you lose weight. Instead they do not fulfill your sweet taste which in result makes you crave more. It also raises your insulin levels. Stevia is completely safe. Just like how healthinsurance will not cover any forms of homeopathic medicine it is the same for this. The FDA is all a money making thing. They do not care about us. Think about it. Why does insurance cover prescriptions but not things like acupuncture. It is because all these drugs and food additives create adverse side effects which in the long run will tear down our systems, in which then our bodies will need more medicine that are actually killing us and then we will die. It is a way to get rid of us because our population is too big.

    • Ccmsd

      You state:”Canada already banned those sweeteners from selling because they actually care about their people.” why not just move there then?

      • Sally

        OK!  I’m headed there right now!  

  • Stef J

    The reason why FDA did not approve stevia as a food additive is because it is actually okay for you. It is so funny that the FDA will approve additives like sweet and low and splenda that is made chemically. It is proven that sweet and low and splenda will cause extreme dangerous effects on the body it is just America is not aware of it because they will not dare make it known public. Canada already banned those sweeteners from selling because they actually care about their people. Stevia is a plant! And yes I am sure if you consumed massive amounts of it it will have an adverse effect on the body but it is not addictive like splenda. Why do you think people who start consuming drinks with splenda seem to increase their intake more and more. Because it is addicting. Those sweeteners are very dangerous and really do not make you lose weight. Instead they do not fulfill your sweet taste which in result makes you crave more. It also raises your insulin levels. Stevia is completely safe. Just like how healthinsurance will not cover any forms of homeopathic medicine it is the same for this. The FDA is all a money making thing. They do not care about us. Think about it. Why does insurance cover prescriptions but not things like acupuncture. It is because all these drugs and food additives create adverse side effects which in the long run will tear down our systems, in which then our bodies will need more medicine that are actually killing us and then we will die. It is a way to get rid of us because our population is too big.

  • anonymous

    If that’s your argument, why have an FDA at all?

    Good question, but how do you suggest we disband it? Consider why it was started in the first place and by whom? What power do the people truly have when the powers and the monies want more?

    Be educated and refuse to be a naive consumer.

  • anonymous

    If that’s your argument, why have an FDA at all?

    Good question, but how do you suggest we disband it? Consider why it was started in the first place and by whom? What power do the people truly have when the powers and the monies want more?

    Be educated and refuse to be a naive consumer.

  • anonymous

    Abolish the FDA. We need real consumer agencies and the general public aware enough to do their own research. Government institutions never work.

  • anonymous

    Abolish the FDA. We need real consumer agencies and the general public aware enough to do their own research. Government institutions never work.

  • Tricia

    John-
    You stated that, “there are sweeteners you can use that are better than this untested product.” Given that the product is untested, on what grounds do you conclude that other sweeteners are better? Although they may be better, it is also possible that they are worse. It seems that we lack the information required to make such a statement. Dana’s argument further highlights this weakness in yours; you recommend the consumption of products that are known to effect negative health outcomes in place of a product that may be healthful.

    Perhaps this statement is evidence that you possess certain biases that cast doubt on your credibility. I am sure that you intended to portray a well-balanced argument, regardless. I certainly do not advocate Truvia or Purevia consumption. I have not tried the product and I have unfounded suspicions of my own.

  • Tricia

    John-
    You stated that, “there are sweeteners you can use that are better than this untested product.” Given that the product is untested, on what grounds do you conclude that other sweeteners are better? Although they may be better, it is also possible that they are worse. It seems that we lack the information required to make such a statement. Dana’s argument further highlights this weakness in yours; you recommend the consumption of products that are known to effect negative health outcomes in place of a product that may be healthful.

    Perhaps this statement is evidence that you possess certain biases that cast doubt on your credibility. I am sure that you intended to portray a well-balanced argument, regardless. I certainly do not advocate Truvia or Purevia consumption. I have not tried the product and I have unfounded suspicions of my own.

  • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

    Tricia-

    Because these sweeteners are untested combinations of artificial sweeteners, I am using the track record of artificial sweeteners as a basis for the idea that these newer sweeteners will likely follow their brethren in being health risks.

    Aspartame, saccharine, Acesulfame K and rest all present significant health risks. It makes no sense to expose yourself to those risks when much better alternatives exist.

    And the idea that any journalist reports without bias is a bit naive ony our part. I have investigated many of these chemicals and I am do not agree with their use in most situations. However, I am willing to entertain new approaches and products – unfortunately, the makers of Truvia and Purevia have continued down the same path of policy shenanigans, incomplete research and forced market entry (which this whole series was supposed to expose).

  • http://www.nutritionwonderland.com John Serrao

    Tricia-

    Because these sweeteners are untested combinations of artificial sweeteners, I am using the track record of artificial sweeteners as a basis for the idea that these newer sweeteners will likely follow their brethren in being health risks.

    Aspartame, saccharine, Acesulfame K and rest all present significant health risks. It makes no sense to expose yourself to those risks when much better alternatives exist.

    And the idea that any journalist reports without bias is a bit naive ony our part. I have investigated many of these chemicals and I am do not agree with their use in most situations. However, I am willing to entertain new approaches and products – unfortunately, the makers of Truvia and Purevia have continued down the same path of policy shenanigans, incomplete research and forced market entry (which this whole series was supposed to expose).

  • Wynesta Dale

    In my opinion there are a few facts to remember:

    1. Stevia, the plant, has been used for centuries in South America without adverse effects;
    2. In a democracy, we the people are the government. We may not, cannot opt out of the responsibility of keeping our servants (FDA, EPA, FAA) honest and of keeping them focused on the consumer. Yes, it takes time, energy and money to make the FDA serve us instead of big business. And, yes, it is easier to let big business pay for the research. But next time you get asked to pay for a food research program by an increased tax, don’t belly ache about it, or you have lost the right to complain about the research done by and for big business.

    • Anonymous

      They aren’t our “servants” and never really have been. As soon as there’s a new gov’t agency, you can be sure that the lobbyists are there too. They add massive cost, decrease innovation, and only further corporatism. (Know the difference between corporatism and capitalism–huge difference.)

      I’ve worked with the FDA before as a process scientist for a medical device company, and they are mostly a bunch of buffoons who do nothing to improve safety.

      • Igbo

        Yes the FDA is only there to make money. They do not care about anyone. It is a selfish world. It is very sad. If they were so concerned there would have been a cure for cancer by now. Crooks of the highest order. God should take care of them.

  • Wynesta Dale

    In my opinion there are a few facts to remember:

    1. Stevia, the plant, has been used for centuries in South America without adverse effects;
    2. In a democracy, we the people are the government. We may not, cannot opt out of the responsibility of keeping our servants (FDA, EPA, FAA) honest and of keeping them focused on the consumer. Yes, it takes time, energy and money to make the FDA serve us instead of big business. And, yes, it is easier to let big business pay for the research. But next time you get asked to pay for a food research program by an increased tax, don’t belly ache about it, or you have lost the right to complain about the research done by and for big business.

  • Francis

    Why no SUGAR. Use sugar in moderation and have an active life style. America can save trillions in healthcare cost an year if people start livng like their parents, cook at home , eat more vegitables and drink safe water. It will change both business and life here.

  • Francis

    Why no SUGAR. Use sugar in moderation and have an active life style. America can save trillions in healthcare cost an year if people start livng like their parents, cook at home , eat more vegitables and drink safe water. It will change both business and life here.

  • Antonio

    I agree, sugar, plain unprocessed unbleached sugar, is the way to go.

    I found this article because I was researching PureVia. I’d gotten a coupon for half off the purchase of “Tropicana 50″. I didn’t know what it was, but thought it was Orange juice, just another variety. Well, when I tasted it, I immediately tasted something foreign, something that was not sugar. I read the ingredients to find that it contained PureVia. “What was this I was putting my body,” I said. Now I know.

    Hey, if people could be eating the leaves for centuries without problems, then why not just give us the leaves, and leave out the other stuff.

  • Antonio

    I agree, sugar, plain unprocessed unbleached sugar, is the way to go.

    I found this article because I was researching PureVia. I’d gotten a coupon for half off the purchase of “Tropicana 50″. I didn’t know what it was, but thought it was Orange juice, just another variety. Well, when I tasted it, I immediately tasted something foreign, something that was not sugar. I read the ingredients to find that it contained PureVia. “What was this I was putting my body,” I said. Now I know.

    Hey, if people could be eating the leaves for centuries without problems, then why not just give us the leaves, and leave out the other stuff.

  • Jaime

    I agree Antonio. Just give me a dang on leave. Dry it, crush it up, boil it whateverz1 I’ve been researching Stevia and I like what I see. In fact i will be visiting a nursery and growing some myself. I’m so tired of all this artificial sweetener crap that’s going on!

    • Igbo

      Where is Stevia plant available? I would like to buy one. It is worth it. Is it freely available in the market?

  • Jaime

    I agree Antonio. Just give me a dang on leave. Dry it, crush it up, boil it whateverz1 I’ve been researching Stevia and I like what I see. In fact i will be visiting a nursery and growing some myself. I’m so tired of all this artificial sweetener crap that’s going on!

  • Antonio

    I saw a commercial today on a Stevia product. I’m a little more sensitive to Stevia these days after my Purevia incident and this website. The commercial was for something called “Sun Crystals”. The ingredients of this product contained only Sugar and Stevia. That’s a novel idea, combining both to form some natural sweetener hybrid that has less calories than sugar alone per tablespoon, but tastes just as sweet. How new is this product? Has anyone here tried it yet?

    • Mzjwadi

      Yes, I use Sun Crystals and like it quite a bit.  It has much less biter aftertaste than Stevia alone, and very little sugar.   You may want to give it a try…

  • Antonio

    I saw a commercial today on a Stevia product. I’m a little more sensitive to Stevia these days after my Purevia incident and this website. The commercial was for something called “Sun Crystals”. The ingredients of this product contained only Sugar and Stevia. That’s a novel idea, combining both to form some natural sweetener hybrid that has less calories than sugar alone per tablespoon, but tastes just as sweet. How new is this product? Has anyone here tried it yet?

  • Richard

    I have used Truvia, Sun Crystals and now Purevia. The reason I no longer use the first two is that I experienced digestion problems and ultimately hemorrhoids(I am not suggesting they caused the hemorrhoids…but I did have them). I just started the Purevia and have no input as of yet.

  • Richard

    I have used Truvia, Sun Crystals and now Purevia. The reason I no longer use the first two is that I experienced digestion problems and ultimately hemorrhoids(I am not suggesting they caused the hemorrhoids…but I did have them). I just started the Purevia and have no input as of yet.

  • Jeff R

    It just kills me how we can have things like cigarettes which are nothing but lethal, prescription drugs which have to be pulled to to links of hundreds of thousands of deaths! We have fast food which is so unhealthy with its mass amounts of trans fats but god forbid we use a naturally sweet product which is used in many other countries. Aspartame has been up for yrs saying how bad it is, linking many conditions to it yet of course than they say its totally safe….amazing how stupid our government can be about things so minute.

  • Jeff R

    It just kills me how we can have things like cigarettes which are nothing but lethal, prescription drugs which have to be pulled to to links of hundreds of thousands of deaths! We have fast food which is so unhealthy with its mass amounts of trans fats but god forbid we use a naturally sweet product which is used in many other countries. Aspartame has been up for yrs saying how bad it is, linking many conditions to it yet of course than they say its totally safe….amazing how stupid our government can be about things so minute.

  • ba

    Thanks for the informative article on stevia’s history and politics. It will be very interesting to see future literature on steviosides vs rebiana vs whole stevia powder. For now, I will try balance taste and price, alone, with hope that more information on the differential net benefits of each will add net health performances to my decision balance.

    I do consider CSPI too frequently an anti-nutrient trojan, linked to the Quackwatch version of flat earth nutrition through the Consumers Union. I consider CSPI a possible gun-for-hire on nutrition issues. CSPI has previously promoted transfats(1980s), described “aspartame as generally safe”(2000s), campaigned against fresh vegetables (promoting irradiation now?), and frequently attacked sale of even the low potency vitamins and nutritional supplements. So I would ask whose agenda laundry is CSPI hauling now on stevia?

  • ba

    Thanks for the informative article on stevia’s history and politics. It will be very interesting to see future literature on steviosides vs rebiana vs whole stevia powder. For now, I will try balance taste and price, alone, with hope that more information on the differential net benefits of each will add net health performances to my decision balance.

    I do consider CSPI too frequently an anti-nutrient trojan, linked to the Quackwatch version of flat earth nutrition through the Consumers Union. I consider CSPI a possible gun-for-hire on nutrition issues. CSPI has previously promoted transfats(1980s), described “aspartame as generally safe”(2000s), campaigned against fresh vegetables (promoting irradiation now?), and frequently attacked sale of even the low potency vitamins and nutritional supplements. So I would ask whose agenda laundry is CSPI hauling now on stevia?

  • Ward L

    Jeff R. Unfortunately, our government is NOT stupid, the people in it are corrupt and greedy. The reason for ALL of this is money. If anyone will take to the time to see how (and more importantly WHO) Monsanto shoved aspartame down our throats and banned sodium cyclamate,(still perfectly legal in every other country in the world) you can see the level of corruption and greed that has permeated your trusted public servants.
    As always, go with the fact that you and you alone are responsible for your well being.

  • Ward L

    Jeff R. Unfortunately, our government is NOT stupid, the people in it are corrupt and greedy. The reason for ALL of this is money. If anyone will take to the time to see how (and more importantly WHO) Monsanto shoved aspartame down our throats and banned sodium cyclamate,(still perfectly legal in every other country in the world) you can see the level of corruption and greed that has permeated your trusted public servants.
    As always, go with the fact that you and you alone are responsible for your well being.

  • Alicia

    Thanks for the article. I used to use Sweetleaf Stevia to sweeten my tea, but have recently switched to organic green stevia (the whole stevia leaf ground into unrefined powder), which I get from an online seller. It is not as overpoweringly sweet as refined Stevia, so I like it better. For baking I’ve been experimenting with a mix of erythritol or xylitol, green stevia and a little bit of inulin… I am currently looking into organic, unrefined sources of erythritol and inulin (I may start trying to use ground chicory root instead of inulin, but for now I’m keeping it in, since the inulin helps negate the “cooling” effect of erythritol). All of these cause mild intestinal discomfort in large enough quantities, which is why I believe moderation is always the way to go when it comes to sweets, but my research has shown me that if I’m going to use sweeteners at all, these are the way to go, having the fewest number of reported adverse health effects (sugar and I have not gotten along for awhile now, and aspartame and sucralose scare me… also just not a fan of the taste of molasses). I prefer a slight laxative effect to yeast infections, diabetes, sugar addiction, psychological problems and cancer. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more pure, less refined possibilities.

  • Alicia

    Thanks for the article. I used to use Sweetleaf Stevia to sweeten my tea, but have recently switched to organic green stevia (the whole stevia leaf ground into unrefined powder), which I get from an online seller. It is not as overpoweringly sweet as refined Stevia, so I like it better. For baking I’ve been experimenting with a mix of erythritol or xylitol, green stevia and a little bit of inulin… I am currently looking into organic, unrefined sources of erythritol and inulin (I may start trying to use ground chicory root instead of inulin, but for now I’m keeping it in, since the inulin helps negate the “cooling” effect of erythritol). All of these cause mild intestinal discomfort in large enough quantities, which is why I believe moderation is always the way to go when it comes to sweets, but my research has shown me that if I’m going to use sweeteners at all, these are the way to go, having the fewest number of reported adverse health effects (sugar and I have not gotten along for awhile now, and aspartame and sucralose scare me… also just not a fan of the taste of molasses). I prefer a slight laxative effect to yeast infections, diabetes, sugar addiction, psychological problems and cancer. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more pure, less refined possibilities.

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