Reb A information, rebaudioside A extract

Overview: the history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2008.
Rebaudioside A is a sweet tasting steviol glycoside extracted and purified from Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni). Steviol glycosides can currently be used as a food ingredient in only a handful of countries. Questions on specifications, safety and special population effects have prevented steviol glycosides from obtaining a legal status permitting their use as a sweetener in most countries. A set of papers reporting results of research studies and reviews has been compiled in this Supplement to definitively answer unresolved questions. Specifically, recently completed studies on the general and reproductive toxicity of rebaudioside A corroborate studies carried out with purified steviol glycosides demonstrating safety at high dietary intake levels. Comparative metabolism studies provide further affirmation of the common metabolic pathway for all steviol glycosides and the common metabolism between rats and humans. Finally, clinical studies provide further evidence that purified rebaudioside A has no effect on either blood pressure or glucose homeostasis. This paper summarizes the information used to conclude that high purity rebaudioside A (rebiana) produced to food-grade specifications and according to Good Manufacturing Practices is safe for human consumption under its intended conditions of use as a general purpose sweetener.

Effect on blood pressure
The hemodynamic effects of rebaudioside A in healthy adults with normal and low-normal blood pressure.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2008.
Rebaudioside A and stevioside are steviol glycosides extracted from the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and are used in several countries as food and beverage sweeteners. This randomized, double-blind trial evaluated the hemodynamic effects of 4weeks consumption of 1000mg/day rebaudioside A vs. placebo in 100 individuals with normal and low-normal systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Subjects were predominantly female (76%, rebaudioside A and 82%, placebo) with a mean age of approximately 41 (range 18-73) years. At baseline, mean resting, seated SBP/DBP was 110.0/70.3mmHg and 110.7/71.2mmHg for the rebaudioside A and placebo groups, respectively. Compared with placebo, rebaudioside A did not significantly alter resting, seated SBP, DBP, mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR) or 24-h ambulatory blood pressures responses. These results indicate that consumption of as much as 1000mg/day of rebaudioside A produced no clinically important changes in blood pressure in healthy adults with normal and low-normal blood pressure.

A strong sustainability message and competitive pricing will be key to the long-term success of Reb A, according to PureCircle corporate VP supply chain Dom Wenninger. Reb A is likely to be fully competitive with sugar for global brands with global volume. Dom Wenninger illustrated the savings by comparing sugar and stevia prices. Sugar prices in 2009 in the US are about $0.77 per kilo while Steviol glycosides, which are 15 times sweeter than sugar, are $0.40 per kilo on an equivalent basis. The comparison may not be a favorable in all global markets since US sugar prices are higher than most. Following the decision in December 2008 by the US Food & Drug Administration to certify Reb A as Generally Recognized as Safe, he said, product development activity had been "intense." Dom Wenninger says, "To build on our continuing success, the global stevia industry must work together as a sustainable industry to tell the very positive story about stevia and the natural extraction methods used, which in many cases is supporting some of the poorest farming communities. At PureCircle, we have learned from other sweeteners that the key to a truly global success is to offer our sweetener— Reb A —an all natural alternative to sugar with zero calories—at a fully competitive price at the earliest opportunity." He said PureCircle, which has offices in New Jersey, Switzerland and Malaysia, was in a strong position to achieve this thanks to its critical mass and its global strategic collaborations with companies such as Firmenich. "This is a monumental shift for the natural sweetener industry, which PureCircle is proud to lead," he added.

Use in France in 2010
Even though stevia is not yet approved as an ingredient in the EU, the French are taking advantage of a loophole that allows individual member states to approve ingredient use for a two-year window. Though the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has yet to offer an opinion on whether to approve Reb A and stevia glycosides, the move may help companies gain market share while waiting for final approval. Greensweet, the Auvergne-based company projects significant number of French product launches using Reb-A starting in 2010. The French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) approved Reb-A, but not stevia glycosides. Consensus is that France and the rest of the EU will wait for EFSA to approve the use of steviol glycosides some time in 2010.

“Consumer concerns regarding obesity and the growing demand for all-natural products bode well for Reb A to quickly gain market share,” says Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory Executive Director Stephen Rannekleiv. ”However, while success seems imminent, and we expect annual U.S. sales of Reb A to reach approximately $700 million within 2015, numerous hurdles must still be overcome.” Reb A is an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener derived from the stevia plant. The stevia plant contains several sweet tasting glycosides, but it’s been found that Reb A has the closest taste profile to sugar. Since approved by the FDA, interest in the sweetener has surged, and is being used in products such as fruit juices, enhanced waters and carbonated soft drinks. Beverage companies are particularly interested because they are facing lagging sales of full-calorie soft drinks, and soft drinks made with artificial sweeteners because of consumer concerns. Reb A would allow companies to develop natural, low-calorie products made without artificial sweeteners.