Update on the Global Stevia Institute’s Scientific Symposium

The FENS2015 conference had about 3000 attendees, mostly nutrition scientists, from around Europe and some from other parts of the globe too.  The GSI symposium titled, “Can stevia really make a difference? Understanding processing, safety and benefits of a new type of sweet,” was well attended and much appreciated by many.  Dr. Ursula Wolwer-Rieck, a stevia expert and researcher from the University of Bonn’s presentation helped the attendees understand the naturality of stevia leaf extract and how with sophisticated HPLC analytical methodology one can prove that the sweet molecules – steviol glycosides – in the high purity stevia extract are the same as those found in the leaf.  In light of the fact that there is no definition for “natural” by some many regulatory authorities, based on these and other data she presented, she concluded that –Steviol glycosides extracted from the stevia leaf should be called natural sweeteners.

Then, Dr. Bernadine Magnuson a well-known toxicologist presented on the body of evidence used to establish the safety of high purity stevia leaf extract and also helped the audience understand why it is that most major regulatory bodies around the world have approved high purity stevia leaf extract and not the whole leaf or crude stevia extracts. After this, the audience had the chance to hear from Dr. Margaret Ashwell an expert on sweeteners and nutrition, on how stevia and low-calorie sweeteners can be a part of a healthy diet as well as their role in weight management and diabetes.  Dr. Priscilla Samuel, Director of the GSI ended the session with a brief summary and presentation on sweetener market trends that showed a five-fold increase in stevia-containing product launches between 2010 and 2015, and shared data on consumer attitudes and knowledge that showed increasing awareness on stevia sweetener in Europe between 2010 and 2015.  She also gave the audience a perspective on the kinds of foods stevia is currently used in around the world. Several attendees stayed to ask questions and get more information.

Not only did the attendees learn a lot on the science of stevia from the presentations at the GSI’s FENS2015 symposium, immediately after, they also got to taste, experience and enjoy great tasting stevia products made with PureCircle’s high purity stevia leaf extract which included; A delicious 50% sugar reduced chocolate mousse, two no sugar-added juice cocktails, and a 50% sugar-reduced ketchup with a tray of healthy vegetables for dipping. If you thought stevia didn’t taste good – these products for sure would not only help you change your mind but would also help you understand that not all high purity stevia leaf extracts are the same!

Enjoy the photos from FENS2015 and here’s what some of the attendees of the GSI symposium said – “Great session, I learned a lot”;… “Very well organized session, thank you”;… “Great to hear on all these angles of an ingredient, not just nutrition but the whole picture”;… “These stevia products taste delicious”;… “I learned so much at your session, I’d like to how I can do some research on stevia and kids”;… “Hope to see you do a stevia session at other conferences too.”  Stay tuned for our next session at another conference in the future.

For conference materials go to the conference section of the GSI website.

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