EFSA Lowers Exposure Levels for Stevia Compounds

February 3, 2011

The European Food Safety Authority has decided to lower safe maximum exposure levels for steviol glycosides.

High consumers of stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) may be faced with excessive exposure to steviol glycosides, the sweetener’s active compounds. For this reason, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; Parma, Italy) has decided to lower safe maximum exposure levels for stevia compounds. The reductions relate specifically to non-alcoholic soft drinks, which are believed to be the main contributors of steviol glycosides in both adult and children populations in the United Kingdom.

In reviewing its previous April 2010 safety assessment, EFSA concluded that the safe range for steviol glycoside exposure in the 95th percentile of children-previously set at 1.7–16.3 mg/kg bw/day-should be reduced to 1.0–12.7 mg/kg bw/day.

EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (ANS Panel) did note, however, that high consumers in several countries were still above the established Acceptable Dietary Intake, set at 4 mg/kg bw/day.

Such changes resulted in revised exposure assessments for 16 different foods, while 15 other foods were removed from application. No changes were observed for 12 other food uses.

With the increase in consumer demand for a natural, zero-calorie sweetener, EFSA’s report also notes that three new food categories have been included: smoked, dried, fermented, and/or salted fish and fish products; soybean sauce; and tabletop sweetener.