Will Europe force a reformulation?

Approval is one thing. Purity levels are quite another. At this point, it is still anybody's guess what the future of the stevia market will look like, pending EU approval.

That's because there is no guarantee that the European Commission will simply rubber stamp EFSA's opinion, warns Kantha Shelke, president of Chicago-based food and nutrition think tank Corvus Blue. "Although EFSA has issued a positive opinion on both concentrations, it is possible that the Commission might approve a higher concentration and therefore reject the petition with the lower concentration," she said.

"The fear about the concentration that the Commission will select is very real among the companies poised to launch stevia products in Europe. At this time, suppliers are concerned as to what concentration they should focus on, since the Commission's choice will affect their production capability. Formulators and manufacturers are concerned that products that do not contain the right concentration will have to be reformulated for the EU market. The wait is particularly agonising for those who are preparing to build inventory of their finished blend."

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