AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND – The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has declared popular non-nutritive sweetener steviol glycosides safe subsequent to a risk assessment.

According to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, steviol glycosides that are added to food must be listed in the ingredient list under the proper food additive class name, followed by the code number or name in brackets.

The initiative to review all intense sweeteners permitted by the Food Standards Code was started in 2017, and as part of that project, the current risk assessment was done.

Phase 1 of the project involves investigating consumption information from nutrition surveys, analyzing pertinent ingredient databases, and conducting fresh or reviewing past dietary exposure studies.

These experiments showed that there is a low risk of steviol glycoside being consumed in excess by Australian and New Zealand consumers.

Steviol glycosides were also found to be the most widely used sweetener in foods that were highly sweetened in Australia and New Zealand, according to an analysis of ingredient databases. The National Nutrition Surveys also revealed that 23% of Australians aged 2 and older consumed at least one highly sweetened food.

Phase 2 started in 2020 with an analytical steviol glycosides survey with the goal of figuring out the levels at which they are present in a range of Australian and New Zealand foods.

These amounts were then used in a more refined evaluation of dietary exposure to steviol glycosides for populations in Australia and New Zealand.

A hazard assessment confirmed the ADI of 0-4 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight per day.

For Australian and New Zealand populations, the estimated dietary exposures to steviol glycosides were significantly below the ADI (less than 50%).

As a result, the risk assessment performed by FSANZ did not reveal any public health or food safety issues based on the already available evidence.

Although they can also be made in other ways, steviol glycosides are potent sweeteners that are commonly derived from the leaves of the Stevia plant and used to substitute sugar in foods.

In Australia and New Zealand, there are three authorized methods for producing steviol glycosides.

They include; extraction straight from stevia plant leaves, followed by concentration and purification; Using enzymes derived from genetically modified microorganisms to transform stevia leaf extract into several forms of steviol glycosides; Fermenting sugar (not from the stevia plant) to make the steviol glycosides using genetically modified yeast.

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