New Coke-backed Stevia Sweetener Gets OK from FDA

A new stevia sweetener jointly developed by The Coca-Cola Co. and said to have a closer taste to table sugar than other stevia products has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Monday, the FDA issued a No Objection GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) letter to Pure Circle, one that will allow the stevia producer to supply its Rebaudioside M (Reb M) ingredient for use in food and beverages.

PureCircle, a global supplier of stevia products, entered into a joint venture with Coke in 2012 to create “a stevia sweetener product as a commercially viable food ingredient” and a planned five-year supply agreement with the cola giant. Coke currently uses stevia, a natural zero-calorie sweetener, in a few of its beverages overseas, including a cola called Coke Life, which the company is test marketing in Argentina.

While the company has announced no plans to introduce stevia into any of its domestically sold drinks, Coke and other CSD manufacturers continue to face a steady decline in consumption of highly-sweetened, high-calorie sodas, and an even steeper drop in sales of artificially-sweetened diet colas.

In a statement, Pure Circle said that high-purity Reb M (known as Reb X) tastes more similar to table sugar “than previous stevia ingredients, allowing for deeper calorie reductions in food and beverage products, particularly those that have higher levels of sweetness.”

Pure Circle produces and markets a number of stevia ingredients including one called Stevia 3.0, “which optimizes taste in stevia-sweetened foods and beverages” according to the company. In its statement, Jason Hecker, Vice President Global Marketing & Innovation, Pure Circle said that the company has established “ongoing investment in supply chain assets and leaf development are in place to support the commercialization of Reb M… and are excited by the opportunities Reb M presents for success within the framework of our Stevia 3.0 capabilities.”