Canadian stevia suppliers are in great spirits today, following news that Health Canada has approved the use of stevia in food and beverages. Prior to this approval, stevia was available only within natural health product applications. Stevia is a natural zero calorie sweetener that has a zero glycemic index and can be used by diabetics. The approval means that consumers across Canada will soon be able to enjoy a similar range of stevia sweetened products to those already available in the United States and the European Union where stevia is already approved for use in food and beverages.
GLG Life Tech Corporation of Vancouver, BC, a stevia supplier that has worked with a number of Canadian companies incorporating stevia in the product development process in anticipation of Health Canada’s approval, reported a significant increase in projects using stevia over the last several months since Health Canada has made steps forward in approving stevia for use within food and beverages. Although numerous food and beverage companies have been proactively working with the ingredient prior to this notice, this approval provides the confidence required for many of these organizations to invest further in the R&D and formulation work and expedite these projects.
PureCircle, a leading producer and marketer of high purity stevia products said it welcomed the stevia approval. “After two years of working with Health Canada and other industry members, we’re happy to welcome stevia’s approval,” said the company’s Sidd Purkayastha, vice president business development and regulatory affairs. “Stevia will play an important role in addressing consumer interest in lower calorie products and natural ingredients, as well as to help offset rising commodity costs for our customers.”
The regulation permitting the use of steviol glycosides as a food additive has now been published as a Notice of Modification to the List of Permitted Sweeteners. The modification came into force on November 30th 2012, the day of publication allowing for sale of products formulated with steviol glycosides immediately.
Food and beverages sweetened with stevia are increasingly being launched around the world, from beverages to dairy to confections. Stevia has been approved in most major markets, and is met with growing consumer awareness. In Canada, steviol glycosides can be used in a wide range of categories, including beverages, breakfast cereals, bakery products, desserts, fruit and nut spreads, confectionery, and table-top sweeteners.