The study, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, provides further evidence for the naturality of stevia—a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener.
The study investigated whether commercial-scale extracted and purified steviol glycosides contain the same ingredient pattern found in untreated leaves and the first water extract of stevia leaves, focussing on the nine steviol glycoside types in the original Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) specification—JECFA, 2010.
Three independent commercial-scale batches of stevia leaf provided by PureCircle Limited were studied. Each batch contained original dried stevia leaf, the first water extract, and a final 95 percent purity stevia leaf extract end-product.
The results revealed the commercial powders of extracted steviol glycosides contain the same nine steviol glycosides analysed as the dried stevia leaves and their water extracts. There was a similar distribution pattern from the different stages of the process, demonstrating the nine steviol glycosides examined are not modified by extraction or purification processes.
"The fact there was no change of the nine steviol glycosides in the provided samples from the original plant to extracted sweetener supports the natural authenticity of stevia sweeteners,” said Dr Ursula Wölwer-Rieck, lead researcher, food chemist in the Department of Nutritional and Food Sciences at the University of Bonn.
Stevia is extracted and purified from the plant into a powdered sweetener. This involves steeping the dried leaves, and separating and purifying steviol glycosides.
"Given growing global concerns about obesity, diabetes and US labelling regulations which will require 'Added Sugars' to be listed on food labels, stevia will help food and beverage companies reduce sugar and calories in products," said Dr Priscilla Samuel, director, Global Stevia Institute. "Consumers' desire for plant-based, zero-calorie sweeteners and 'clean' labels have contributed to stevia's growth."