EFSA revises assessment of consumer exposure to steviol glycosides

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reviewed its previous assessment of consumer exposure to the sweeteners steviol glycosides[1] based on the revised levels of use proposed by the applicants. More commonly referred to as stevia, these sweeteners are proposed for use in sugar-free or reduced energy foods such as certain flavoured drinks and confectionary. Although the revised exposure estimates are slightly lower than those in the opinion adopted by EFSA’s ANS Panel in April 2010, adults and children who are high consumers of foods containing these sweeteners, could still exceed the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) established by the Panel if the sweeteners are used at maximum levels[2].

In April 2010, EFSA’s evaluation of the safety and consumer exposure indicated that some adults and children could exceed the ADI of 4 mg per kg body weight per day (mg/kg bw/day) if the sweeteners were used at the maximum use levels proposed by the applicants. The European Commission therefore asked industry to revise the uses proposed for the substances. In order to ensure that the use of such sweeteners would be safe for consumers, the European Commission subsequently requested that EFSA carry out a new exposure assessment on the basis of the revised uses proposed.

Taking into account the revised proposed uses and use levels submitted by industry, EFSA calculated the exposure to steviol glycosides from various food categories including non-alcoholic flavoured drinks which, given food consumption habits, would be among the main sources of exposure to steviol glycosides for both adults and children. In estimating the exposure, EFSA used data from several food consumption databases, including EFSA’s Comprehensive Food Consumption Database.

For high consumers, revised exposure estimates to steviol glycosides remain above the established ADI of 4 mg per kg body weight. For European children (aged 1-14) exposure ranges from 1.7 to 16.3 mg/kg bw/day; and for adults, revised exposure estimates range from 5.6 to 6.8 mg/kg bw/day.

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