Get ready for a barrage of soft drinks and foods using the term stevia. The FDA today gave its blessing to use of the zero-calorie natural sweetener derived from the leaves of a South American bush, the Chicago Tribune reports. Coke and Pepsi will have drinks on the shelves soon, and expect to see stevia sweetener packets for coffee and tea. If customers like the taste, the beverage industry may be in for big changes.
The news is a big deal in the sweetener world, notes the Tribune, because companies have long sought a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners such as Equal and Splenda. Merisant Co. has a version of stevia called PureVia and Cargill Inc. has one called Truvia. Coke plans to unveil a version of Sprite and two Odwalla juice drinks sweetened by Truvia, and Pepsi will introduce a zero-calorie SoBe Lifewater and an orange juice product called Trop50 that has PureVia.