Safety of Stevia, the Sweetener
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Henrik Nielsen-Gotsæd
Posted on: November 15, 2000

I just wanted to hear what you know about Stevia Rebaudiana. Here in Denmark there is a lot of talk about adverse effects caused by stevia. Do you know of any? Is there any documentation? Or is it just the established industry trying to keep out competion?

Here is what Jim Brandle, the breeder of Canadian stevia cultivars, said at the Richters Third Commercial Herb Growing Conference:

"There was a lot of controversy around the sweeteners available in the 1960s. There was some indication that they promoted sterility in rats, they were anti-androgenic, basically birth control. A lot of people tried to repeat that one study that appeared in Science, in 1965, and have never been able to, but that’s one of the legacies. The second one’s a study that indicated that the aglycone – which is that molecule without the sugars on it – when you put that through a certain kind of rat, and you pre-treat its liver with Arachlor1250, it produces something called 15-oxisteviol, which is mutagenic in salmonella, actually. So, there’s a big concern about that, and that work has been repeated, but no one really knows its accumulatory effect because nobody produces 15-oxisteviol in their livers. We don’t pretreat ourselves with Arochlor1250. Those questions are unanswered and, until somebody answers them, it’s a little bit iffy. I think that the market that exists in our country [Canada] now, is largely the food supplement market where youd sell dried leaves or some kind of extract, but not as a food additive." You can read the entire presentation in the transcripts which can be ordered from Richters.

Stevia is safe to use. It has been used since the 1930s in Japan, and it’s is a traditional sweetener in Paraguay. We believe that the artificial sweetener industry has a vested interest in not seeing stevia approved as a food additive so that it can be added to foods and drinks such as diet soda.

Back to Culinary Herbs and Their Uses | Q & A Index

Copyright © 1997-2014 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.