by Marion Nestle
Jul 19 2008

Truvia/Stevia safety research!

Sherry Weiss Poall of the RF Binder agency, which does public relations for Cargill, was kind enough to send me the collection of research studies the company is using to demonstrate the safety of Truvia/Stevia. The studies just came out in a supplement to Food and Chemical Toxicology, July 2008. Journal supplements typically are paid for by the research sponsor, in this case, Cargill. The authors of the dozen or so papers are scientists at Cargill and Coca-Cola or “independent” scientists who were paid for their work by Cargill “for consulting services and manuscript preparation.” The papers cover the chemistry and metabolism of stevia, its effects on human blood pressure and diabetes (none reported), and its effects on rats (minimal problems and only at absurdly high doses). Their entirely predictable conclusion: Truvia/Stevia is safe.

Stevia is a plant extract.  It isn’t poison ivy, it’s been around for awhile, and it ought to be safe. But sponsored research always raises questions about the objectivity of the science, especially when the papers read like press releases, which these do. I can’t wait to see what the FDA makes of all this. In the meantime, it’s on the market as an unapproved product.

  • living in belgium, europe i am very interested to be updated on stevia which apparently is already commonly used in the U.SA. but not yet in europe

  • Marion,

    Nice peice on Truvia. Would you like to try Zevia. It is a a natual alternative to diet sodas that uses stevia. No artificial sweeteners like aspartame or Splenda. 0 calories, carbs and 0 on glycemic index.

    Let me know and I will send samples for your review.


  • Corey

    I use stevia quite often, under the brand name Only Sweet. Nothing bad has happened to me.

  • carri

    I’ve been using stevia for years now. I use it in my tea with additional honey. The honey gives it a deeper sweetness but the added stevia boosts the sweetness level. I have found that stevia is a thiner sweetness compared to sugar or honeys fuller sweet taste. You have to work with it to know what I mean. It works (tastes) better in stronger flavors. I use it to make sugar free ice cream and have found chocolate tastes better than vanilla when using stevia because chocolate is a stronger flavor than vanilla. I am looking forward to stevia coming out in sodas. I have just recently bought Zevia sodas and I didn’t care for their taste unfortunately. So I’m hoping Pepsi Co. or Cocoa Cola will do a much better job using stevia.


    Thanks for all your insightfull information and great book. I wanted to know your thoughts on the research UCLA has done on stevia and the various comments The Center for Science in the Public Interest has made on it. In your opinion, is this a relaible source or do they too have a hidden agenda. I have been trying to do some research on my own and have found many conflicting statements. Thanks for all your help, Aleksandra

  • Research sponsored by food companies almost always comes out in favor of the companies’ products. I don’t think much independent research is available. So the interpretation is up for grabs.

  • cg

    The same folks who got Truvia through the FDA have opposed stevia from being approved for decades, even paying for studies to ‘prove’ stevia is harmful (which certainly doesn’t seem to be the case). Harmful to their bottom line, maybe, since a naturally occurring plant can’t be patented. So while Truvia may (or may not, who knows what stripping out other components of the plant may do) be safe, I can’t ever see monetarily supporting Cargill or Coca Cola on this by buying their product or ones that contain it–these companies are not to be trusted. They’re also the same folks who strongly supported aspartame, which is a neurotoxin and causes a slew of health problems. So stevia remains illegal in the US, while Truvia is just fine? You’ve just got to wonder where these people’s heads are at!

  • Hannah

    CG – stevia is not illegal here in the US…it’s a “food supplement”, they won’t allow it to be called a sweetener.

  • Dawn

    Hi everyone! Stevia is legal in the US and its a great sugar substitute. I currently use Stevia Extract in the Raw from the makers of Sugar in the Raw. Its all natural and zero calories. Check out their site for more info on it.

  • Worse yet, Cargill and THE PENTAGON have been visiting my blog article “The Truvia Deception” which exposes the Coca-Cola/Cargill connection to Truvia and the PepsiCo/Merisant connection to PureVia and how Truvia and PureVia are not TRUE stevia products. They are corn sugar products using 99+% erythritol with the rest being Rebiana, a chemically-processed version of the Reb-A stevioside. I guess exposing the truth about Fauxvia (Truvia) and ImPureVia (PureVia) is a threat to national security.

  • @Dawn read the ingredients on Stevia Extract in the Raw. The primary ingredient is dextrose. In fact, Stevia Extract in the Raw is 95.8% dextrose which is derived from GMO corn. All of the “stevia” products which have recently popped up – Truvia, PureVia, Stevia Extract in the Raw – are actually corn sugar products with a miniscule amount of stevia thrown in so it can qualify as a stevia product. Truvia, PureVia, and Stevia Extract in the Raw are NOT stevia products. A REAL stevia product has “stevia extract” listed as the primary/first ingredient. My favorite is Stevita brand. Its primary ingredient is stevia extract, and it also contains xylitol as a “bulking agent”.