Health Canada: Food Directorate Updates Food Additive Listing for Stevia (steviol glycosides)

February 4, 2015 By

The Food Directorate of Health Canada has initiated regulatory changes concerning the common sweetener Stevia. Stevia’s active component, steviol glycosides, is now considered to be an acceptable sweetener in meal replacement bars at a level of 0.02% (calculated as steviol equivalents). In addition, methyl alcohol (methanol) has been approved to be an extraction solvent for steviol glycosides.

The Bureau of Chemical Safety of the Food Directorate of Health Canada reviews any new scientific information on the safety of any food additive used in humans. Through these reviews, two modifications relating to the sweetener Stevia (specifically its active constituent steviol glycosides) have been approved expanding the type of food products that steviol glycosides as a sweetener can be used in and what extraction solvents are permitted for use in the manufacture of Steviol glycosides

Steviol glycosides are permitted for use in Canada as a sweetener in specific foods, at defined levels. Upon completion of a review of a food additive application to expand the food commodities to which Stevia may be added, Health Canada has approved the addition of ‘meal replacement bars’ at a level of 0.02% (calculated as steviol equivalents). The list of Permitted Sweeteners has been updated to reflect this change.

Additionally, Health Canada has approved a second food additive petition to permit the use of Methyl alcohol (methanol) as a solvent for steviol glycosides. As no safety concerns were raised through this assessment, the Food Directorate has modified the “List of Permitted Carriers or Extraction Solvents” to include methyl alcohol (methanol) as a solvent in the manufacture of steviol glycosides.

These two approvals by Food Directorate concerning the active component of Stevia enlarges the scope in types of food products that Stevia is permitted in and what solvents are permitted for use in the extraction process. However, it is important to note, that Stevia may only be included in food commodities that have been indicated on the List of Permitted Food Additives and at the maximum level is use outlined. Any extension of the types of food commodities or solvents will require the submission and acceptance of a Food Additive application.

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