Today, Wisdom Natural Brands™ received a “no questions” letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regard to the findings of the FDA expert panel of scientists, which concluded that the whole leaf steviol glycosides with rebaudioside A and stevioside, used to formulate the company’s SweetLeaf Sweetener® extract, are granted Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status. SweetLeaf Sweetener® is Wisdom’s all-natural, zero-calorie, zero-carb and zero-glycemic index stevia sweetener.
“It is a tremendous victory for Wisdom Natural Brands™ and SweetLeaf Sweetener® to be validated by the FDA,” said Wisdom’s founder, Jim May. “Scientists spent more than a year conducting extensive research to assure the safety and quality of our sweetener extract and today’s letter from the FDA authenticates what science has already proven – SweetLeaf Stevia™’s high-intensity sweetener extract is a safe and pure alternative to sugar for consumers and food and beverage companies across the globe. The difference between SweetLeaf™ and all the other stevia sweeteners on the market is that SweetLeaf™ does not chemically alter the molecular structure of the sweet compounds called glycosides. Instead, SweetLeaf Sweetener® is produced by isolating and extracting the four sweetest glycosides produced naturally within the stevia leaf. This results in a purer, sweeter-tasting stevia extract that does not require masking agents or other flavoring compounds.”
While all other stevia sweetener extracts are made with processes that require various chemicals, solvents and alcohols, including ethanol and/or methanol, which leave residues in their sweetener products, SweetLeaf Sweetener® is made entirely with high grade stevia leaves in a proprietary cool, purified water filtration process. No chemicals or alcohols ever touch the stevia leaves and no chemical residues are found in the extract or products made from it.
“It is the only truly 100% natural stevia sweetener available,” says May. “And the entire extraction process supports nature and sustainability principles. The leftover leaf material is used to nourish livestock and the post-extraction water is saved and then trucked to agricultural fields to enrich the soil and growing fruits and vegetables. The stevia leaves used in SweetLeaf Sweetener® are such a higher grade than those generally used by other companies that many fewer kilos of leaves are required in the process to make a kilo of extract, thereby further saving earth and water resources. Even our tabletop sweetener packet box is made from 100% recycled material as part of our commitment to all natural and eco-friendly principles.”
SweetLeaf™ received GRAS status in March, 2008, when GRAS Associates, an independent panel of scientists, awarded SweetLeaf™ stevia GRAS status pursuant to FDA regulations. FDA regulations allow companies to independently determine by qualified food science experts, through a self-affirmation process, that an ingredient is generally recognized as safe. To prove the point even further, Wisdom obtained a concurring opinion from the Life Science Research Office, which independently agreed with GRAS Associates’ original findings. Wisdom submitted their GRAS notification to the FDA in February, 2009, and is the only company in America known to ever contract with two separate and distinct panels of scientists to determine the GRAS status of a product independently of one another and of the company making the product.
Originally discovered in the rainforests of Paraguay about 2,000 years ago by the Guarani people, stevia was called Ka’a He’e, meaning sweet herb. A high-quality stevia leaf is about 30 times sweeter than sugar and contains many important nutrients. Stevia extract is 300-350 times sweeter than sugar in its final high intensity sweetener form. Jim May first brought stevia to the United States nearly 30 years ago and he has worked with the native farmers throughout South and Central America to improve stevia crop yields, quality of leaves, and methods of propagation, cultivation and harvest since that time. Farmers in nine different Latin American countries currently partner with SweetLeaf™ in growing stevia. Jim May is called the “Father of Stevia” and revered as a “living legend” to those associated with stevia. He was recently given a unanimous nomination to be the honorary President of the American Federation of Stevia, an organization of stevia growers, manufacturers, scientists and governmental agents across Latin America.
SweetLeaf Sweetener® table top stevia sweetener packets are made with only two ingredients: SweetLeaf Sweetener® stevia leaf extract, taken from the naturally occurring sweet compounds of the stevia leaf, and the world’s finest inulin, an all natural vegetable soluble fiber found naturally in fruits and vegetables, as a carrier for the high intensity sweetener, to make it more convenient for consumer use. Unlike the other stevia sweetener brands that use sugars and sugar alcohols with flavor enhancers for this purpose, the use of inulin in SweetLeaf™ also nourishes the body’s good intestinal flora, improving digestive health and immune function.
SweetLeaf™ offers several sweetener products in a variety of forms, including packets, tabs and shaker bottles. All are ideal for everyday use by weight watchers, athletes, diabetics and everyone else wanting to reduce the amount of added dietary sugar in their diet when sweetening any foods or drinks – for example, flavoring fruit drinks, iced tea, coffee or tea, oatmeal or other cereal, yogurt, ice cream or smoothies. SweetLeaf™ can be substituted for sugar in any recipe and tastes delicious, without the bitter aftertaste that many stevia sweeteners may have.
About SweetLeaf Sweetener®
SweetLeaf™ is the brand name for the first great-tasting, all-natural, zero-calorie, stevia-based sweetener offered in America. After some of the most stringent scientific research on its safety and its unique, ultra-pure formulation, SweetLeaf Sweetener® became the very first stevia-based product to achieve GRAS status. It is the only stevia-based product with zero calories, zero carbs and zero glycemic index on the market today.
About Wisdom Natural Brands
Gilbert, Ariz.-based Wisdom Natural Brands is the parent company of two highly-respected consumer brands, SweetLeaf™ stevia and Wisdom of the Ancients® herbal teas. The company, in cooperation with scientists in South America, spent more than a year developing a new and advanced processing methodology using only purified water from start to finish for the extraction of the sweet glycosides from stevia leaves in preparation for the launch of SweetLeaf Sweetener®. This all-natural sweetener alternative is the best-tasting in the industry and has zero calories, zero carbohydrates and zero glycemic index. For recipes, comparison charts with artificial sweeteners and more information, go to www.sweetleaf.com