The European Commission approves the use of Stevia, (VihreäLanka) as a natural sweetener to be used in food. The first soft drink giant to use Stevia plant is Hartwall Company, from Finland. According to Hartwall’s Product Development Manager Hannele Alakarhu, Stevia plant has been under researchers’ “eyes,” examined and tested for years and they believe it is the ideal plant for sweetening drinks. Already in December first drinks containing this ingredient will be appearing in the Finnish market.
In South America, Korea and Japan, Stevia has been used for sweetening and flavoring purposes for a long period of time. While Stevia has been used in a number of countries, the United Kingdom and the United States have had some restrictive governmental legislation in the past.
Stevia is a South American, native Paraguayan species (Stevia rebaudiana) economically important and 100 times sweeter than sugar plant. Even though much sweeter than sugar, Stevia does not contain any energy.