WAYZATA, Minnesota, April 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today published a Scientific Opinion, which confirms that steviol glycosides, sweeteners extracted from the stevia plant, are safe for use in foods and beverages and establishes an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for their safe consumption.

In its published Scientific Opinion, EFSA's Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Foods (ANS) concludes that, considering the available toxicity data, steviol glycosides complying with JECFA[1] specifications are not carcinogenic, genotoxic or associated with any reproductive / development toxicity. The ANS Panel also establishes an ADI for steviol glycosides, expressed as steviol equivalents, of 4 mg/kg bw/day, the same ADI as previously established by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).

The opinion is based on a rigorous safety assessment by EFSA's ANS expert panel of the scientific dossiers submitted by several applicants including Cargill, maker of Truvia(TM) sweetener, a great-tasting, zero-calorie sweetener derived from the leaf of the stevia plant. The Scientific Opinion applies to steviol glycosides including stevioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside C, dulcoside A, rubusoside, steviolbioside, rebaudioside B, rebaudioside D and rebaudioside F.

Truvia(TM) tabletop sweetener, the U.S. market leader in the new category of stevia-based sweeteners is made with rebiana, which is 97% pure rebaudioside A, the best-tasting part of the stevia leaf and one of the steviol glycosides assessed by EFSA. Truvia(TM) rebiana, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, opens up a whole new range of choices for food and beverage companies to create products with sweetness from a natural source without calories.

Zanna McFerson, Assistant Vice President, Cargill Health and Nutrition, said: This is a very important milestone in the path of European regulatory approval of steviol glycosides. We look forward to offering our food and beverage customers Truvia(TM) rebiana for use in foods, beverages and confectionary products as an innovation for their brands. Consumers in Europe will benefit by having more choice as they look to manage sugars and calories in their lives. Our Truvia(TM) product will initially be available in France where it is already allowed for use.

EFSA's ANS Panel also stated that, based on conservative estimates, the ADI would be exceeded at the maximum proposed use levels for steviol glycosides. For comparison, the ADI is equivalent to approximately 23 teaspoons of Truvia(TM) tabletop sweetener every day over the course of a lifetime. Projected use levels were based on provisional industry estimates. In practice, maximum use limits in certain food and beverage categories may need to be adjusted before a final regulation is issued by the European Union.

In May 2008 Cargill published the results of the Truvia(TM) rebiana research programme in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. This research is the only peer-reviewed, published comprehensive safety programme and was pivotal for substantiating the safe use of steviol glycosides, of which rebaudioside A is one, in food and beverages.

Professor Andrew Renwick OBE, Emeritus Professor of the School of Medicine of the University of Southampton UK, who contributed to the Truvia(TM) rebiana research programme, commented: EFSA's positive Scientific Opinion affirms that the extensive research performed on rebiana has established its safety for use in foods and beverages.

In July 2008, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives found steviol glycosides safe for use and the U.S. Food Drug Administration responded favourably to Generally Recognised As Safe notifications (GRAS) in December 2008. In September 2009, France authorised the use of rebaudioside A as a sweetener at the national level as the result of a positive safety opinion issued by the Agence Francaise de Securite Sanitaire des Aliments.

Steviol glycosides are also permitted for use in foods and beverages in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, France, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

In the U.S., since its introduction, Truvia(TM) tabletop sweetener has achieved a 7.6 percent market share of the sugar substitute category and Truvia(TM) rebiana launched in more than a dozen food and beverage products. In France, Fanta Still(R) juice drinks made with Truvia(TM) rebiana were recently launched.

Notes to editors

About Truvia(TM)

Truvia(TM) tabletop sweetener is a great tasting, zero calorie sweetener, made with rebiana that originates from the best tasting part of the stevia leaf. Truvia(TM) rebiana is also used as an ingredient to sweeten foods and beverages. Truvia(TM) rebiana can currently be found as an ingredient in the following products in the U.S.: Glaceau vitaminwater10(TM) and vitaminwater Zero(TM) beverages, Coca Cola Sprite Green(TM), Odwalla(R) Reduced-Calorie Quencher, Kraft Crystal Light Pure Fitness and Nature's Splash(R) powdered beverage, True Lemon Naturally Sweet(R) powdered beverage, All Sport Naturally Zero(TM) sports drink, Hansen's(R) Natural Lo-Cal juices, Blue Sky(R) Free sodas, Minute Maid Premium(R) Pomegranate Tea, Breyers YoCrunch(R) 100 Calorie Packs, Velamints breath mints, and Dippin' Dots(c) ice cream. In France, Truvia(TM) rebiana can be found in Coca Cola Fanta Still(R) juice drink and Eckes-Granini juice drinks under the Joker and Rea brands. For more information, visit http://www.truvia.com

About Cargill

Cargill is an international provider of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 138,000 people in 67 countries. Cargill helps customers succeed through collaboration and innovation, and is committed to applying its global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental and social challenges wherever it does business. For more information, visit http://www.cargill.com.

About stevia

Stevia is a shrub in the Asteraceae family native to portions of north-eastern Paraguay. The plant has been grown, harvested and used in South America as a sweetener in foods and beverages for more than 200 years.

About steviol glycosides

The sweet components of the stevia leaf. There are various kinds of steviol glycosides, but the two most abundant types are stevioside and rebaudioside A.

About rebaudioside A

The best-tasting of the steviol glycosides found in the stevia plant. Rebaudioside A is almost identical in chemical structure to stevioside, and the body breaks it down into the same basic parts. This means that the extensive body of safety data on stevioside can be applied to rebaudioside A.

About Rebiana

Rebiana is a 97% pure form of rebaudioside A. It is the first high-purity, well-characterised form of rebaudioside A. ---------------------------------

[1] Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives

Media Contacts: Elizabeth Fay Phone: +44(0)1932-861165 EMAIL: Elizabeth_Fay@Cargill.Com Ann Clark Tucker Phone: +1-952-742-4057 EMAIL: Ann_Tucker@Cargill.Com Rosemary Broo Phone: +44(0)203-043-4169 EMAIL: Rosemary.Brook@kaizo.net Atalanta Rafferty Phone: +1-212-994-7511 EMAIL: Atalanta.Rafferty@Rfbinder.Com

SOURCE: Cargill Incorporated

CONTACT: Media Contacts: Elizabeth Fay, Phone: +44(0)1932-861165, EMAIL:Elizabeth_Fay@Cargill.Com; Ann Clark Tucker, Phone: +1-952-742-4057, EMAIL:Ann_Tucker@Cargill.Com; Rosemary Broo, Phone: +44(0)203-043-4169, EMAIL:Rosemary.Brook@kaizo.net; Atalanta Rafferty, Phone: +1-212-994-7511, EMAIL:Atalanta.Rafferty@Rfbinder.Com