EFSA evaluates the safety of steviol glycosides

The European Food Safety Authority’s scientific Panel on additives, the ANS Panel, has assessed the safety of steviol glycosides, sweeteners extracted from plant leaves, and established an Acceptable Daily Intake for their safe use. The assessment has been sent to the European Commission which will consider whether or not to authorise the substances in the European Union for their proposed use in particular in sugar free or reduced energy foods such as certain flavoured drinks, confectionery with no added sugar or energy reduced soups.

Toxicological testing showed that the substances are not genotoxic, nor carcinogenic, or linked to any adverse effects on the reproductive human system or for the developing child. The Panel set an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)[1] of 4 mg per kg body weight per day for steviol glycosides, a level consistent with that already established by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).

The Panel points out, however, that this ADI could be exceeded by both adults and children if these sweeteners are used at the maximum levels proposed by the applicants.

Steviol glycosides are intense sweeteners extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni). These substances, such as stevioside and rebaudioside, range in sweetness from 40 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose.

EFSA reviewed the safety of three dossiers supporting requests for authorisation. Food additives such as sweeteners must be explicitly authorised at European level before they can be used in foods.

[1] The Acceptable Daily Intake is the amount of a substance that people can consume on a daily basis during their whole life without any appreciable risk to health.

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