Friday, June 01, 2007

Natural alternative to Aspartame might come from Argentina

Two years ago, I read this interesting comment about an unknown plant dubbed Stevia. I saved the post.

I was surprised this week to read that Coca Cola is going to use it as natural sweetener to replace controversial/unhealthy artificial sweeteners like Aspartame.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2005:
" Why not a STEVIA coke.. its about time these large companies got on the back of the FDA and got stevia legalised... its a sham that i dont have the choice to have that natural sweetner in products i like. Call your congressperson!"

http://www.diet-blog.com/archives/2005/06/14/coke_zero_confused_anyone.php

May 31, 2007:

Coke teams up with Cargill to launch new sweetener
"Giants of food and drinks aim to develop their own natural rival to NutraSweet and sucralose, to meet health demand"

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/consumer_goods/article1864667.ece

"It has spent the past three years developing Stevia plantations in China, Paraguay and Argentina."

For those who can read Spanish, more info about Coke/Cargill's moves in .AR, here:
http://www.clarin.com/diario/2007/06/01/elpais/p-02202.htm

My translation of a key paragraph:

"Originating in Paraguay and Northern Argentina, Stevia is produced in the country in industrial scale only by the Tobbaco Cooperative in the province of Misiones, which in 2004 used 100 has of land for the plant, and plans to produce about 500 tons. This co-operative associated with a laboratory from Mar del Plata for Stevia post-processing".
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So... I would start investigating this Stevia plant if I had a piece of productive land. Since I don't... I'll leave this exercise for young entrepreneurs like Mike... :). Who knows, maybe this natural sweetener without the health problems of Sugar or Aspartame could be even used in Cookies!. ;-)

Good for people like me with bloody chronic liver disease... my doc told me to avoid artificial sweeteners whenever possible, and it's harder to do every day as the profit-hungry companies are starting to add it to more products every passing day, from cookies to 'flavoured water' to gelatin (even the non-Diet ones, damn you, Royal!).

PS: This is the closest to an admission about the dangers of artificial sweeteners (if those were safe, why would they need to change to something "healthy"?.

If you think that artificial sweeteners like Aspartame are 100% safe over long term use... you are not aware of all the material casting doubt on artificial sweeteners.

3 comments:

Frank.Sugar&Spice said...

Hi Fernando,

Interesting post about this new sweetener. I would wait and see on this one though before putting it into any of the cookies. The article stated that it was banned in the USA becuase of possible liver problems. This sounds like something you should stay away from as well.

Saludos,
Frank

Fernando (Nerd Gaucho) said...

Hey Frank.

Thanks for the heads-up wrt the Stevia.

I didn't know it was banned. I thought it was simply "not tested" and thus its safety not known by the FDA.

If it's bad for the liver, then it's a big no-no for me.

I will continue using organic sugar, then. :)

Frank.Sugar&Spice said...

Fer,

Thanks for the link on the organic sugar. Doing something more along the healthy route is something that we are considering but it will take a while if we do actually decide to go ahead with it. It's just that we have to do a lot of research to make sure we do it right. For now we are thinking about it and researching.