The opinion, which follows a rigorous process that began two and a half years ago, also recognises there are up to 60 molecules from the stevia leaf which are safe for consumption.
Upon final approval from the European Commission, which is expected to be published later in the year, the range of stevia solutions from PureCircle - now operating as PureCircle by Ingredion - will be commercially available to European food and beverage manufacturers.
PureCircle claims its proprietary technologies and expansive stevia experience enable it to maximize the output of each stevia leaf. This results in more sustainable, efficient stevia plants which yield more optimized quantities of stevia ingredients and reduced overall waste compared to conventional stevia leaf varieties, it maintains.
Naturally derived ingredients
“With nearly one out of two consumers concerned with sugar, related to health issues [Global Data's Q3 2016 Global Consumer Survey] it’s clear consumers are seeking to limit sugar in their diets and reduce calories, not with artificial sweeteners, but with ingredients that are naturally derived," said Sue Bancroft, PureCircle Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"As such, PureCircle by Ingredion has invested significant time and resource in the optimisation of what the stevia plant can do and building the most robust portfolio of stevia ingredients.
“We are delighted that following the EFSA’s positive safety opinion, food and beverage manufacturers will soon be able to access PureCircle’s stevia ingredients from bioconversion. Produced from a process that mirrors the plant’s natural ingredient production process, the range provides a non-genetically-modified stevia leaf ingredient that's clean tasting, has a sugar-like sweetness with none of the calories and with no ingredient separation, and is fully scalable to improve cost-in-use.”
Plant-based ingredient supplier Ingredion Incorporated announced the agreement to acquire a controlling 75% stake in PureCircle in April 2020. Both companies are based in Illinois in the US.