A new sweetener jointly developed by the Coca-Cola Co. and stevia producer Pure Circle has gotten the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's stamp of approval.
Pure Circle said in late December that the FDA had issued a "no objection" letter for its "high-purity" Rebaudioside M, known as "Reb M"or "Reb X." The FDA classified the ingredient as Generally Recognized as Safe, allowing Pure Circle to supply it for use in food and beverages.
The stevia producer said the substance has a "closer taste to table sugar than previous stevia ingredients, allowing for deeper calorie reductions in food and beverage products, particularly those that have higher levels of sweetness."
Pure Circle entered into a joint venture with Coke in 2012 to create Reb M that included a five-year supply agreement with the soda giant. The two companies are seeking global intellectual property coverage for the ingredient.
"Ongoing investment in supply chain assets and leaf development are in place to support the commercialization of Reb M," said Jason Hecker, PureCircle's global marketing and innovation vice-president.
Coca-Cola sweetens some of its beverages overseas with stevia, a natural zero-calorie sweetener. The soda giant has not specified plans to introduce the sweetener in any of its domestically sold drinks, but carbonated beverage sales have seen sharp declines, with an even steeper drop in sales of artificially sweetened diet colas.