The International Stevia Council (ISC) announced the launch of an independent Proficiency Testing Program (PTP) for stevia products. At the moment, there are a wide variety of analytical methods and reference standards being used within the industry to determine steviol glycoside content. Importantly, the quality of the analytical methods and reference standards is not consistent across the industry. This has resulted in inaccurate and inconsistent representation of product composition and purity levels.
In order to protect market viability of all stevia-based products, the Stevia industry needs to address the challenge of ensuring that analytical methods and standards employed are appropriate and meet minimum levels of accuracy. The Proficiency Testing Program will allow participants to benchmark performance of their methods, analytical standards and analysts' competency in a statistically relevant, blind testing scheme managed in accordance with international quality standards. Initially, samples will be limited to stevia-based sweeteners that comply with JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) purity specifications (not less than 95% of the total of the nine named steviol glycosides, on a dry basis). Successful proficiency testing programs exist in numerous industries, including corn-based sweeteners, sugar, food and botanicals industries.
The International Stevia Council has selected LGC Standards Limited as the vendor to administer the Proficiency Testing Program. Carl Horn af Rantzien, President of the Council said: "The PTP is open to any laboratory that wishes to participate in this testing scheme. Therefore, you do not need to be a member of the International Stevia Council to participate, though you will enroll directly with ISC for participation. Since this program is designed to provide inter-laboratory comparisons, you do not need to invest in new equipment or methods. Participants are requested, however, to commit to a minimum full year of PT rounds (4 tests). This is important to ensure the creation of trend analyses. We sincerely hope that not only corporations but also governmental agencies, private laboratories and universities will participate in the Program."
For more information on the International Stevia Council's Proficiency Testing Program and to enroll online, please consult http://www.internationalsteviacouncil.org/proficiency-testing
About the International Stevia Council
The International Stevia Council is a global trade association representing the interests of companies that process, manufacture and/or market stevia sweetener products. The International Stevia Council is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit organization incorporated under the law of the State of Delaware in the United States (US). The Council was created in July 2010 by eleven founding members.
The International Stevia Council is managed by its staff in its Global Office in Brussels (Belgium) and its US office in Washington DC (USA).
Stevia is a plant of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family whose leaves have been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. Extracts of the stevia leaf have been available as food additives (sweeteners) and/or dietary supplements in many countries around the world.