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Labeling steviol glycosides, this is how it really is!

Since 13/12/2014, all packed foods must have a nutrition label. Producers still had time to get all labels right according to the legal requirements until 13/12/2016. Here and there I read on Facebook pages of a "webshop" and a "producer of Steviol glycosides from Stevia" some "incorrect" statements about the new labeling regarding sweeteners. I read that this nutrition label was supposedly also mandatory for the labeling of steviol glycosides. I was pretty sure that steviol glycosides are excluded from this legislation as it is a food additive and not a food. Nevertheless, I decided to check with the FAVV.

Labeling Stevia: FAVV and NVWA

The FAVV and the NVWA closely monitor the quality of food and the safety of the food chain. For example, the agencies regularly inspect food at shops, farms, fruit farms and slaughterhouses. They also set certain rules for food products. Regarding sweetener from Stevia, for example, a producer may not just put "Stevia" on the label, but rather the statement "sweetener based on steviol glycosides". This is due to the fact that the Stevia plant itself may not be designated as a sweetener.

Response from the FAVV

After I contacted the FAVV, the agency provided clarity fairly quickly. They sent the following message about what they allow on labels:

"For table-top sweeteners, Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 on food additives also applies. Article 23 §2: the sales name of table-top sweeteners must include the statement "Table-top sweetener based on steviol glycosides or erythritol" followed by the name(s) of the sweeteners used for its composition. For example, "Table-top sweetener based on erythritol and steviol glycosides."

As for nutrition labeling, I would like to refer to Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers where Annex V point 6 excludes table-top sweeteners from mandatory nutrition labeling."

Don't get carried away by social media

Right now, the phenomenon of "fake news" comes up regularly. People spread it through social media, for example. It is easy to get carried away by posts on Facebook and Twitter, for example. Handle this carefully, and do not believe everything you read because what is on social media is not always true. If in doubt about a product or food label, it is wiser to contact the FAVV (Belgium) and the NVWA (the Netherlands). These will be able to check the attached article for truth and confirm it.