The French government has become the first EU state to grant approval to the natural sweetener, Stevia.
An inter-ministerial decree published recently in France's state journal authorises the use and marketing of the sweetner - which stems from the Stevia rebaudiana plant -  for a period of two years.  This follows the green-light given to Stevia by France's Food Safety Agency in June. 
Stevia, whose sweetening power is 200 times that of sugar,  represents around 40% of the sweetener market in Japan and is also in use in the US.
French approval of Stevia has been warmy received by Coca Cola France which sees it as means of  facilitating new development in drinks with reduced sugar levels and also allowing the marketing of drinks containing rebaudioside, which are already distributed in the US.