Cargill gets FDA stamp of approval for new zero-calorie sweetener

Cargill‘s new zero-calorie sweetener Truvia has received a timid-sounding but official endorsement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The regulatory agency gave its blessing to the product in a letter this week, saying it is “generally recognized as safe.”

The sweetener is made from the leaves of a South American shrub called stevia. Cargill and Coca-Cola have been developing the product for almost six years and hope it will be a blockbuster.

The Star Tribune’s Matt McKinney profiled the sweetener earlier this week, noting Cargill’s unusual decision to launch a $20 million, nine-month advertising campaign promoting the product directly to consumers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has raised concerns about the sweetener as a potential carcinogen. It submitted a 26-page report to the FDA in August urging more study be done before giving its stamp of approval to Truvia.

Coke plans to use the sweetener in a new soft drink called Sprite Green, which will have 50 calories per 8.5 ounces and some natural sugar along with Truvia, the Wall Street Journal reports.

It’s also being sold in packets at the grocery store. So should you make the switch? City Pages food reviewer Rachel Hutton put the sweetener to a taste test and concluded: no.

“So, as zero-cal sweetener-hater, I can tell you that I hated Truvia. Its tiny, white grains are finer than granular sugar and have a horrid, piercing, supersweetness,” Hutton writes. “If you aren’t supposed to be eating sugar for medical reasons, by all means, try Truvia. As for the rest of you, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

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