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Beverage makers eager to release soft drinks with naturally-derived, zero-calorie Stevia

BY Melissa Valliant

ATLANTA and, PURCHASE, N.Y. Diet beverages may undergo an ingredient makeover within the next few months as a new sweetener called stevia hits the market. Stevia contains no calories or carbohydrates and has a glycemic index of zero.

The sweetener, which originates from a Latin American plant, has been marketed for years as a food and beverage additive as well as a stand-alone sweetener in outside countries, including Brazil, South Korea and Japan. It was introduced to the U.S. in the 80s, but the FDA limited it to a dietary supplement in 1995. Now the FDA is making moves to permit its use in food and beverages.

Naturally, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have jumped on the opportunity to use a sweetener with natural origins and zero calories in their products and are currently in talks with the FDA. So far, Wisdom Natural Brands’ SweetLeaf stevia sweetener is leading the stevia brand, according to a new Packaged Facts study, and is currently the only stevia product with the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) label, which assures consumers that competent scientific research has found the product to be safe.

Coke and Cargill have teamed up to sell their own version of stevia, called Truvia, as a tabletop sweetener, and the Wall Street Journal has reported that Coke may introduce a new beverage containing Truvia within the next few months. PepsiCo has followed similar steps and joined forces with Whole Earth Sweetener Company to create a stevia-based tabletop sweetener called PureVia. Both Coke/Cargill and PepsiCo/Whole Earth Sweetener Company have filed requests for a GRAS label in May with the FDA, which has 180 days to respond.

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Cub Food hopes to spread environmental awareness with opening of ‘green’ grocery store

BY Jenna Duncan

MINNEAPOLIS Cub Food is now operating the nation’s first “green” grocery store in St. Paul, the company said. The store is certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and will save about $6,500 in energy costs per year.

To construct the store, builders used recycled materials and energy-efficient lights and fixtures. The store also has 44 solar-powered skylights and the parking lot is equipped with LED lights which have a lifetime of about 40 years.

Additionally, the outdoor landscaping will be irrigated using a system designed to conserve water and landscapers will plant drought-resistant plants around the store, Cub Food said.

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Former White House chef and Sara Lee release White House-worthy sandwich ideas

BY Melissa Valliant

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. Craving a meal fit for a king? Chef Louis Eguaras may not have cooked for royalty, but, as a former White House chef, he prepared meals for President George Bush Sr. and is now joining forces with Sara Lee Deli to bring the White House cuisine to your home.

The two encourage Americans to celebrate Nov. 3’s National Sandwich Day, which coincidentally shares the date with the eve of the 2008 presidential election. Sara Lee Deli has posted two recipes inspired by both Obama and McCain’s favorite foods at www.thejoyofeating.com, Check out the a-vote-cado and turkey; red, white and blue inaugural; and the bi-partisan panini.

Eguaras recommends sandwich-makers use Sara Lee Deli to aid them in their sandwich creations for the night of Nov. 3, and suggests Sara Lee Fresh Ideas sandwich dressings. The condiments are sold in small, single-serve packets that allows you to wait until the last minute to apply, sparing you a soggy sandwich.

Sara Lee Deli is also releasing four new deli meats comprising pre-sliced Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Garlic herb Chicken and Hickory Smoked Ham, as well as deli-available Sara Lee Fresh Ideas Virginia Brand Ham with Natural Juices and Deluxe Cooked Ham with Natural Juices.

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