Approval is set to be publicly announced on Monday 14 November

Approval is set to be publicly announced on Monday 14 November

The European Commission has formally approved stevia sweeteners for use within the European Union for the first time.

After months of examining the safety of natural sweeteners derived from the stevia plant, a European Commission source confirmed to just-food today (11 November) that stevia has been approved for use in the EU's 27 member states.

Approval, which is set to be publicly announced on Monday 14 November, is a potential landmark ruling for stevia producers. Several producers, including Cargill and PureCircle, have outlined strong sales potential for stevia in Europe.

Cargill first reported on EU clearance for stevia late yesterday. It said: "Earlier today, Cargill, the maker of Truvia sweetener and an official petitioner for the use of stevia in Europe, was notified by the European Commission of its formal approval of steviol glycosides in Europe as of 11 November 2011."

Cargill said yesterday that it has signed a distribution agreement with Azucarera in Spain to address the "strong consumer demand" for the sweetener in the country.

The announcement follows recent distribution agreements the company has made with three other firms in Europe - CristalCo in France, Eridania in Italy and the Silver Spoon Co in the UK and Ireland. "These partnerships mark an important stage in the growth of Truvia sweetener in Europe," said Truvia's VP and business director, Zanna McFerson.