The European Stevia Association (EUSTAS) has revealed it intends to launch a quality control scheme after European scientists gave the safety nod to sweeteners derived from the stevia leaf.
On 14 April the European Food Safety Authority issued positive opinions on three dossiers seeking approval to market stevia products under the EU's food additives regulation. The agency concluded: "Toxicological testing showed that the substances are not genotoxic, nor carcinogenic, or linked to any adverse effects on the reproductive human system or for the developing child."
Crucially, EFSA's panel on additives, which assessed the dossiers, said a range of stevia-based sweeteners should be approved — not just the purest form, as was the case when French government approved Rebaudioside A 97 within its own borders last year.
Jan Geuns, president of EUSTAS, which submitted one of the three safety petitions to EFSA, told Functional Ingredients it would still be some time until stevia ingredients gained full authorisation within the EU.
"After the positive opinion of EFSA, the European Commission has to approve it," he said. "Then each country has to change its laws. All this can take up to one year depending upon the speed of the administration. The good news is that EFSA had a positive opinion on both Rebaudioside A and the mixture of not less than 95% pure steviol glycosides."
He added: "We want to develop a EUSTAS quality label ensuring that all steviol glycosides of good quality will be authorised on the market."