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Research shows use of sought-after sweetener is safe

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCKVILLE, Md. A study into possible health effects associated with stevia, a natural, calorie-free herb used to make sweetener being researched for use in U.S. food production, concluded that the additive is safe. The study is expected to be published next week online, sources said.

A Web journal called Food and Chemical Toxicology is slated to publish findings from the study, funded by Cargill. Cargill and Coca-Cola are working towards gaining U.S. regulatory approval for a sweetener extracted from the South American herb, branded Truvia.

In the 1990s, the FDA denied stevia for use as an additive, stating that there was not enough evidence to prove its safety. However, it was approved later to be sold as a dietary supplement.

Some reports, dating back to 1985, have said that stevia can cause mutations in the livers of rats and potential fertility problems for men. Coke and Cargill have disputed these claims and insisted that their new product is much different from unrefined forms of stevia used in early testing. The companies are moving to go ahead with product development and distribution in countries that have approved stevia for use, such as Brazil, China and Japan.

Though some countries have reportedly banned stevia, a recent report by the World Health Organization said there were no major toxicity risks associated, but also said more studies should be done on the health effects on people with hypertension and diabetics.

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Mars Snackfood revamps Texas plant to use greener fuel

BY Jenna Duncan

WACO, Texas Mars Snackfood yesterday announced a new plan to go green by incorporating methane gas from a local landfill into one of its plant’s energy supply. The gas will be piped to a boiler and help to fuel production operations at the plant.

During a public ceremony yesterday, the company released a public-private partnership plan between the plant and landfill to span about a decade. The methane gas recycling efforts should have great environmental benefits in the long-run, the company said. The methane could provide about 60 percent of the plant’s boiler fuel requirements for up to 25 years, according to Mars.

Todd Lachman, president of Mars Snackfood U.S., visited the plant, as well as government officials from all levels and Waco business community members.

This particular Mars plant produces Skittles, Snickers and Starburst candies.

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Wish-Bone dressing giveaway aimed at encouraging healty eating

BY Alaric DeArment

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. Not everyone was raised by dieticians, but parents who exhort their children to eat their greens still have a point.

Wish-Bone wants to encourage people to eat more vegetables by giving away bottles of its new Bountifuls salad dressing between May 30 and June 1.

After buying bottles of Bountifuls at supermarkets, people can download a mail-in rebate form and send it in with their receipts. The form is at www.wish-bone.com/Digital-Garden.aspx.

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