Are New Low-Calorie, Stevia Sweeteners Safe?


Photo courtesy of Truvia

Sugar substitutes--think Splenda, Nutrasweet, Equal and Sweet 'N Low--taste kind of weird, and well, we moms still worry about their safety even though the FDA approves them.

So companies--this time Coke and Pepsi--keep coming up with new, low-calorie sweeteners. The latest one--derived from the stevia plant, a South American shrub--hits shelves this month.

The sweeteners are sold as Truvia (developed by Coke) and PureVia (developed by Pepsi). They'll be in new soft drinks this month.



Photo courtesy of Purevia

Coca-Cola's Truvia-sweetened drink is Sprite Green, a reduced-calorie soft drink that will debut in two U.S. cities in December and be more widely available in 2009.

PepsiCo's first products containing PureVia will be zero-calorie SoBe Lifewater in three flavors (Black and Blue Berry, Fuji Apple Pear, and Yumberry Pomegranate), and a new orange juice drink called Trop50, which will contain 50 percent less sugar and calories than regular orange juice.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) issued a news release that says, "Shame on the Food and Drug Administration" for its decision on rebaudioside A, the stevia extract in Truvia and PureVia. The CSPI calls for further safety tests of rebaudioside A, according to CBS News.

Meanwhile, natural docs like Andrew Weil and Joseph Mercola have been saying they use stevia for years. Several CafeMom groups like Organic, Natural, and Simple Living were abuzz with the news this weekend. SunshineNsmiles, for example, pointed out that even sodas with stevia were "still loaded with all sorts of unhealthiness." 

What do you think? I will probably try these drinks, but I'm not a big soda drinker anyway. Will you drink the new stevia soft drinks?

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