Stevia leaf extract is widely recognized as safe for human use in foods and beverages based on extensive scientific research and testing. Stevia leaf extract is GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) in accordance with US FDA requirements. In addition, several prominent global and international food safety entities, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), Health Canada (HC) and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) have supported these research findings by offering opinions that support high purity stevia leaf extract as safe for human consumption.

Historical, Technical and Safety Overview of Stevia

Much of the work demonstrating the safety of stevia leaf extract, instrumental in helping to pave the way for the introduction of stevia-based sweeteners in the global marketplace, was summarized in an article written by M.C. Carakostas and colleagues[1] in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology. The article documented robust safety and clinical studies that helped address data gaps identified by regulatory authorities.

The article detailed the purity requirements for stevia leaf extract and answered questions about toxicity and carcinogenicity (no evidence of either), reproductive safety (deemed safe), blood-glucose levels (did not affect glucose levels), cardiovascular effects (no effect on blood pressure) and general clinical safety.

Below are a few excerpts from a few different global food safety entities that have offered opinions stating that high purity stevia leaf extract is safe for human consumption:

  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) offered the opinion[2] in 2011 that stevia leaf extract complies with the appropriate specifications and is safe for use. In addition, EFSA established an acceptable daily intake[3] Read the entire opinion here.
  • Health Canada (HC) added stevia leaf extract to the list of permitted sweeteners in a 2012 notice[4] and concluded there were “no health or safety concerns associated with the use of steviol glycosides in the prescribed applications.”[5] Read the entire opinion here.
  • The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) in 2008 approved the use of stevia leaf extract “as an intense sweetener for a wide variety of foods.”[6] Three years later, in 2011, the organization chose to “permit an increase to the maximum permitted level of stevia leaf extract in the proposed foods.” [7] Read the entire opinion here:

Many wonder whether crude stevia is safe for use in foods and beverages. While the aforementioned research findings have demonstrated that high purity stevia leaf extract is safe for use in foods and beverages, safety concerns remain about crude stevia. Crude stevia is not permitted for use as a food additive by the US FDA, as it is not generally recognized as safe.

Read the entire US FDA opinion about high-intensity sweeteners here.

Read the full article from M.C. Carakostas and colleagues here.