Coke, Cargill name new sweetener Truvia

Officials from Cargill Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. held a joint web conference May 15 to announce the electronic publication of peer-reviewed research that confirms the safety of their jointly developed zero-calorie sweetener, rebiana, which comes from the South American-native stevia plant. They also formally named the new product Truvia and said it would be on the market by the end of this year.

Calling is “a breakthrough product,” Leslie Curry, regulatory and scientific affairs director at Cargill Food and Ingredient Systems, Wayzata, Minn., explained the technical background of the sweetener. The stevia plant has been used as a sweetener for decades, especially in Asia. A more refined component is called rebiana, which has been further refined to produce the branded product Truvia.

“Begins with a leaf, not a lab,” was a promotional tagline used in the presentation.

The two announced their joint effort late last year when Coca-Cola filed patents covering use of the sweetener in products ranging from vitamins to cereal. Some of the filings referenced the triple crown for sweeteners: it sweetens like sugar (although it’s 200 times sweeter), has zero calories and comes from a natural source.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola apparently will have exclusive rights to develop and sell Truvia in beverages, apparently not limited to its own. When questioned, Rhona Applebaum, vice president and chief scientific and regulatory officer of Coca-Cola, did not say if her company had any specific products planned around it or when it might show up in a product.

Cargill may market the sweetener for use in other products – earlier stories mentioned yogurt, cereals, ice cream and candy. Zanna McFerson, business director of Cargill Health and Nutrition, said her company also plans a tabletop sweetener.

The scientific research will be published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. More info is online at www.allaboutrebiana.com.

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