Stevia-The only EU approved sweetener from a natural source
1. What is Stevia?
Stevia rebaudiana bertoni commonly known as Stevia is the plant from which steviol glycosides are extracted.
2. What are steviol glycosides?
Steviol glycosides (SGs) are the sweet components extracted from the leaves of the Stevia plant. They are authorized under the food additive legislation for use as a sweetener and/or flavour in food and beverage applications.
3. What is Reb A?
Reb A, short for Rebaudioside A, is the dominant SGs found in Food and beverage applications. It is up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose.
4. Is Reb A the only SGs?
No, there are 10 different steviol glycosides recognized in the EU – Stevioside, Rebaudioside A, B, C, D, E and F, Steviolbioside, Rubusoside and Dulcoside.
5. Can any SGs be used in the EU?
There are very stringent quality requirements concerning SGs marketed in the EU.
- The SGs product must be ≥ 95% SGs (restricted to the 10 SGs recognized by the EU)
- The SGs product must be ≥ 75% Reb A or Stevioside or Reb A + Stevioside.
- The SGs have been obtained through an extraction and crystallization process that includes the use of ion exchange resins.
6. What is a steviol equivalent?
A steviol equivalent is the unit by which the amount of steviol glycosides present is measured. It is the unit on which the steviol glycoside legislation is based. The steviol equivalent value is found on all EUREBA quality certificates.
7. Are SGs natural?
SGs are found naturally in the Stevia plant. The SGs are not changed during the extraction and purification process. That is to say the SGs molecules have not undergone any chemical changes. SGs however cannot be labelled as natural due to the fact the purified SGs have undergone a complicated extraction process. They can be labelled as from a natural source with the explanation that they are extracted from the stevia plant.
8. Are SGs organic?
Even if organic leaf is used in the extraction/purification the final SGs involves an ion exchange step that is not approved under EU organic legislation.
9. Are SGs allowed in animal food?
Yes, SGs classify as feed additives. They must fulfill the requirement specified in the E960 specifications.