We are not Stevia vendors neighter vendors of steviol glycosides.
We want to inform you, present news and, if necessary, provide up-to-date information about what is on offer in Europe.
Lots of information is available about Stevia and its sales practices. We want to inform you about Stevia and steviol glycosides.
Stevia is a group of about 200 Stevia plant species. Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is the ‘honey leaf’. You probably already knew that since searching for ‘Stevia’ on the Internet (via Google results in at least 14 million links).
The scientific literature is associated with A. Douglas Kinghorn (Ed.), ‘Stevia, the Genus Stevia’, Taylor & Francis, 2002 and Jan Geuns (Ed.), ‘Stevia and steviol glycosides’, Euprint ed., 2010.
Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
The leaves of this plant were used 1500 years ago by the Guarani Indians in Paraguay to sweeten their food and drinks.
Use of the ‘natural’ products (the plant and its leafs) as a sweetener is not allowed in the EU yet.
The plant and/or the dried leaves (crushed or uncrushed) may be available for external use (in water or alcohol treatments) or in toothpaste. It may also be sold as an ornamental plant.
Until 11 November 2011 the EU has banned the sale of Stevia (the plant and its leafs) and its sweeteners (steviol glycosides).
Steviol glycosides are now authorized in the EU
In the Official Journal of the European Union dated 12 November 2011 appeared Regulation No 1131/2011, showing that 95% pure steviol glycosides may legally be sold in the EU, after a period of 20 days from publication, the sweetener in stores (as of 2 December 2011).
France was the exception –it has had a temporary system in place since August 2009.
Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia (no members of the EU) had already separate legislation.
What are steviol glycosides?
The real sweeteners from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni are usually obtained by extraction through a process that starts by repeatedly dipping the leaves in warm or hot water with natural products.
The more surface treatments, the purer the final product. The leaf of the plant does not contain 100% sweeteners (steviol glycosides). Currently there are 32 known steviol glycosides. Stevioside is the most frequently mentioned . Some people find it has a bitter aftertaste. Another steviol glycoside, rebaudioside A (also abbreviated RebA) has the least bitter aftertaste.
The final product is a white powder (similar to powdered sugar).
Purity of steviol glycosides
It is clear that purity determines how good the product tastes.
The following images show a ratio of 50 % (left) and 95 % (right) steviol glycosides (coloured beads).
The coloured beads represent steviol glycosides but in real life the product is white.
The European Food Safety Authority gave a positive recommendation regarding a 95% purity of all steviol glycosides on April 14, followed by the above mentioned Regulation (EU) 1131/2011.
Purity of the two most known steviol glycosides (stevioside and rebaudioside A)
The following images apply for the EU for all steviol glycosides.
Instead of a 50% purity (left), the purity from the steviol glycosides, as a sweetener has to be 95% (right).
Industrial and residential use
In Jean’s Cola the producer in France uses a 100% concentration of rebaudioside A 97 % (50% of the sweetener -the rest is sucrose) because it concerns large quantities.
To soften the sweetener (100 RebA 97% to be 200 to 300% sweeter than sugar) or to give it a less bitter aftertaste (stevioside has a liquorice aftertaste) processors add other nutrients. Sometimes the steviol glycosides have to be linked to bulking agents to enable dosage.
This lowers the concentration of steviol glycosides.
The following images clarify things.
In the tablets for sweetening hot drinks, Rebaudioside A (RebA) is sometimes combined with sorbitol.
The left image shows the proportion of added nutrients (red) to the RebA (white) and the impurities (black) after extraction.
Now let’s talk about concentration.
In addition to purity (see above), concentration plays an important role in determining the cost price for consumers.
The end user often prefers a liquid steviol glycosides mixture because they don’t leave any sediment in cold liquids. It is important to know what the concentration of steviol glycosides is. In the following pictures you will see a quantity of RebA 97% with one and two doses of water.
The bottle below has a concentration (12%) of a steviol glycoside (stevioside) with a purity of minimum 95%.
Clear labels are important for private use.
What should I buy ? What did I buy?
The concentration of the steviol glycoside(s) should be mentioned. A 100% concentrate is only available in powder form. This white powder can be mixed. Hence the demand that the concentration would be stated.
The steviol glycoside(s) should be mentioned. The market price of RebA 97% compared to steviol glycosides 95% is 400% .
The purity of the steviol glycoside(s) maybe mentioned. May be mentioned but legally minimum 95% pure.