In the world of sugar substitutes, stevia seemed like a shining star promising guilt-free indulgence. However, its journey to the mainstream market was far from smooth, and stevia was actually banned for use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991.
So, why was stevia banned? And is it safe to use now, or are there better alternatives? Let's uncover the truth behind stevia as we dive into the intriguing story of why this sweetener was banned and discover stevia’s secret.
Why Was Stevia Banned?
If you're like most people, you probably didn't know that stevia was previously banned by the FDA. Let’s backtrack and look at the history of this controversial sweetener.
Explaining the Controversial History of Stevia
Stevia comes from a plant native to South America, the Stevia rebaudiana plant. This natural, zero-calorie sweetener has been used for centuries by indigenous communities to sweeten their foods and drinks. It’s up to 400 times sweeter than sugar, so it really packs a punch!
In the 20th century, as artificial sweeteners really started to gain popularity, stevia was suddenly under intense scrutiny from the FDA. So, why was stevia banned?
The Health Concerns: Why Did the FDA Have Issues with Stevia?
Stevia was initially banned because some highly alarming early studies suggested that the sweetener might be linked to cancer. There were also other concerns about the sweet compounds in stevia leaves, known as steviol glycosides. Some studies brought to light the potentially deleterious effects of these compounds on human health, particularly on reproductive health and blood pressure.
As a result, the FDA classified stevia as an "unsafe food additive" and prohibited its use as a sweetener in the United States, branding it as a potential risk to consumer health based on the evidence available.
Global Perspective: The Varied Treatment of Stevia Around the World
Interestingly, the ban on stevia was not universal. While some nations, including the United States and parts of Europe, imposed strict restrictions or outright bans on stevia, others embraced it as a natural sweetener with fewer reservations.
So why was stevia banned in the US but not everywhere else? Countries like Japan and Brazil had long-standing traditions of using stevia without reported adverse effects, leading them to approve its use as a sweetener. The specifics of stevia's regulatory status can still vary from country to country, with some limitations and restrictions on its use in certain products.
Is Stevia Still Banned in the USA?
So, what’s the verdict on stevia today? Is the use of this divisive sweetener still regulated? Let’s take a look at how stevia use is managed in the US today.
The story of stevia in the United States took a significant turn with the introduction of the "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) status. In 2008, the FDA granted GRAS status to certain high-purity steviol glycosides, the sweet compounds found in stevia leaves.
Stevia’s GRAS designation meant that these specific forms of stevia were considered safe for consumption.
Current Status: Where Does Stevia Stand in the USA Today?
As of today, stevia is no longer banned in the United States. Stevia can now be added freely to food and beverage products.
Since the ban has been lifted, stevia is now all around us. It’s probably in your favorite sugary snack, the diet soda in your fridge, your chewing gum, granola, sports beverages, yogurt or favorite keto snack…you get the idea.
The Caveats: Different Forms of Stevia and Their Regulatory Status
While stevia itself is no longer banned in the US, different forms and uses of stevia have different regulatory statuses. The FDA's approval pertains specifically to high-purity steviol glycosides, which are processed to remove impurities and undesirable compounds.
Other forms of stevia, such as whole-leaf stevia or crude extracts, have not received the same level of regulatory approval. These forms may contain additional components of the stevia leaf, which could potentially raise concerns about their safety or long-term effects. As a result, whole-leaf stevia isn’t approved for commercial use.
Is There a Better, More Natural Sweetener?
Because stevia hasn’t been subjected to long-term, rigorous safety studies, we still don’t know how harmless it is. And even if it’s safe in small doses, stevia is in so many foods around us that we might be ingesting much more than a safe amount. So, are there alternatives? Let’s investigate.
The Problems with Other Alternative Sweeteners
There are lots of other artificial sweeteners that have the same status as stevia, like aspartame or sucralose. These sweeteners have also faced their fair share of criticism, as synthetic compounds that have been linked to weight gain, metabolic disorders, and even certain cancers. The lingering concerns surrounding artificial sweeteners have led many to seek a safer, more natural alternative.
Introducing Sweet Proteins: A Superior Alternative
If you haven’t heard of sweet proteins yet, don’t worry! Because sweet proteins proteins (all other alternative sweeteners are small-molecule and affect the gut microbiome), they don't come with the potential dangerous impact on our guts and blood sugar/insulin system. They are the newest, safest, most natural guilt-free way to replace sweetness, and this is your chance to be a trailblazer and discover all the incredible benefits of sweet protein for yourself! This absolute game-changer is about to revolutionize the food and beverage industry, and we’ll all be better off because of it.
So, how are sweet proteins made? Basically, sweet proteins are naturally occurring compounds found in certain exotic fruit you’ve probably never heard of, like the oubli fruit. These proteins are incredibly powerful. They’re like sugar, but way better: They deliver up to 5,000 times the sweetness without any of the guilt or health complications! Plus, they’re natural, making them a safer option for anyone concerned about artificial sweeteners.
Can sweet proteins be used as a sugar substitute? They sure can! And that’s exactly what we’re doing at Oobli. We’ve spent years figuring out how to harness the incredible power of sweet proteins, and have now perfected our fermentation process to make guilt-free versions of the foods we love the most.
Our delicious sweets are vegan and keto-friendly, and contain only a handful of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! We believe that we all deserve to enjoy sweetness, so we’re using sweet proteins to offer an entirely new way of adding a little sweetness to your day. Whether you’re into our refreshing sweet iced teas or our irresistible dark chocolate treats, you’ll never look back once you discover the power of sweet proteins.
Parting Thoughts on Why Stevia Was Banned
You came here to learn why was stevia banned, and left with a whole lot more! If you find the whole stevia story a bit troubling, so do we! That’s why we’re making sweet proteins the future of sweet. Who needs chemicals or nasty additives when you can use the natural power of fruit-based proteins to sweeten your food?
Not only do sweet proteins taste better than artificial and alternative sweeteners (say goodbye to that disgusting aftertaste forever), they don’t bring the calories or glycemic effect of sugar. You’ve earned your treats, and you should be able to enjoy them without that lingering feeling of guilt in the back of your mind.
Are you curious about Oobli’s guilt-free treats? Try them for yourself, you won’t believe what you’ve been missing!