Comments sought on F.C.C. stevia extract standard

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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ROCKVILLE, MD. — The U.S. Pharmacopeial (U.S.P.) Convention will develop a standard for the new sweetener Rebaudioside A to be included in the Food Chemicals Codex (F.C.C.) and thus seeks comments from the food and beverage industry, the U.S.P. said Jan. 5.

Rebaudioside A is an extract from the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) and is used as an alternative to sugar and other non-caloric substitutes in foods and beverages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December said it had no questions about studies showing Rebaudioside A is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as a sweetener in certain foods and beverages.

"As U.S. manufacturers begin to incorporate this new ingredient into their products, it is important for these companies and, ultimately, consumers to have some sort of assurance that the Rebaudioside A being used is of high quality, is free of harmful contaminants and is consistent in its contents from one batch to the next," said Dr. Darrell Abernathy, M.D., Ph.D., chief science officer for the U.S.P. "By proposing a standard that all manufacturers — in the Untied States and around the world — can participate in the development of and subsequently choose to adhere to, U.S.P. and food and beverage manufacturers can partner to assure the quality of this ingredient.

"Consumers also are able to participate in this process. We believe such a quality standard is critical given that Rebaudioside A’s use as a sweetener is relatively new in the United States."

U.S.P., an independent, non-profit, scientific organization, sets chemical standards that are used in more than 130 countries. U.S.P. released the sixth edition of the F.C.C. in February 2008. A new edition will be released every two years. Supplements will be published between each edition. For more information on providing comments, visit www.usp.org/fcc/forum.

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