In the News: FDA Rules on Stevia, Diet Coke Plus

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In the last few days before the administration changes hands, the FDA has been hard at work making changes.

Here are two of the most interesting rulings:

FDA Says Diet Coke Plus Mislabeled

In 2007, Coke started selling Diet Coke Plus, also called Coca Light Plus, which is the diet cola with added vitamins and minerals.

Eight ounces of the beverage has 15% of your Reference Daily Intake of niacin, B6, B12, and 10% of your zinc and magnesium, according to the company.

The trouble was not the product but the name, ruled the FDA. "Plus" is a regulated word in the food and beverage industry. Whether that "plus" is meant to indicate added sugar, vitamins or even water, it must meet certain FDA requirements to carry that name.

A food labeled "plus" must contain at least 10% more of the Reference Daily Intake or Daily Reference Value compared with the usual amount. The Diet Coke Plus label does not mention the increased amount of vitamins and minerals. However, Diet Coke Plus was cited for breaking another regulation: the "Jelly Bean" rule.
From the warning letter sent to Coke: "Your product Diet Coke Plus is a carbonated beverage. The policy on fortification states that the FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages."

This doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with the actual product. It means that the FDA thinks the product was mislabeled. This month Coke responded: "We take seriously the issues raised by the FDA in its letter. This does not involve any health or safety issues, and we believe the label on Diet Coke Plus complies with FDA's policies and regulations."

It's not clear what will happen with the Diet Coke Plus ruling. The FDA has been known to reverse decisions, or Coke could change the name or labeling. We'll keep you posted.

Stevia Approved for Use in Food, Beverages

Also last month, the FDA approved stevia for use in food and beverages. The zero-calorie sweetener, which is a refined version of a South American plant, had previously been marketed only as a dietary supplement. The FDA concluded " that it has no objection to [stevia] at 95 percent purity or above, having GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status as a general purpose sweetener for food and drink, not just as a supplement."

There's quite a demand for the sweetener: Coke will launch Sprite Green this month and a line of Odwalla juice drinks sweetened with Truvia, the brand name of the stevia that Coke and Cargill have partnered to develop.

Meanwhile, Pepsi will soon unveil three flavors of its SoBe Lifewater sweetened with its proprietary version of stevia, PureVia.

Stay tuned to SparkPeople for more news about the plant-based sweetener, which is said to have a negligible effect on blood sugar. A few of us here did an unofficial taste test of stevia awhile back.

Two of us didn't care for it and thought it had a chalky, fake taste and a strange, too-sweet aftertaste. However, it's important to mention that those two are not fans of any sweeteners. Two other co-workers liked it. They said it was sweet but not too sweet (though you use a much smaller volume of it than you would sugar), and it was perfectly undetectable in coffee. They'd use it in coffee, tea or other beverages.

We'll do a real taste test when we spot stevia-sweetened drinks on store shelves.

Do you drink Diet Coke Plus instead of other diet sodas? Why? Have you tried stevia? What did you think?

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I use NuNatural brand Stevia that I buy at the Health Food Store (it is sold on-line) and it has no nasty aftertaste like the Stevia in the Raw does. (I bought that and tossed it in the trash.) If you tried that then no wonder you didn't like it. I use the NuNatural Stevia in my lemon water or Kool-aid and it is fine. I don't waste money on soda if I can avoid it. Report
I don't drink soda, but I have tried Diet Coke eons ago & liked it. I prefer Splenda over Stevia & I like Truvia better than both of them. Report
nothing beats true stevia. its taste is very different from the processed stuff. i still use truvia and a stevia liquid because i cant grow the plant right now but my mom grew a stevia plant and we would take one or two leaves crush them up and brew them with our teas. so delishious. and there has been a soda out already that sweetend with stevia. its not half bad. found in natural foods stores. i dont drink soda anymore but that soda was pretty good. Report
I generally avoid diet soda because the "nutrisweet" and "sweet and low" leave unpleasant aftertastes. Now that Diet Rite is using splenda and sprite will launch a stevia beverage, they may be more acceptable. Report
I drink an occasional diet soda but drink more flavored water and drinks like iced tea with truvia. I also use it when I make homemade yogurt. Report
Ugh, I can't stand stevia - I also detect an aftertaste and way too much sweetness. I don't like other artificial sweeteners, either (I'm a 'taster' so I can detect them even if people try to sneak it past me, or i drink it unknowingly).

Give me water or an herbal tea (or okay, hot chocolate!) and I'll happily quench my thirst that way. Report
I'm not a fan of diet sodas or "diet" processed products at all, so the Coke Plus, Zero, or whatever is wasted on me. I don't need that junk in my diet.

I HAVE developed quite a taste for stevia (the truvia brand) in my coffee or chai, along with almond or soy milk. I'm loving the taste, but VERY concerned that it's loaded with chemicals or chemical by products by way of the manufacturing. It seems to good to be true that the 'natural' aspect hasn't been wrecked in the manufacturing ... maybe I'm cynical, but hard to imagine that we're actually buying the natural plant product. I'm holding my breath to see what comes up about this great new product (and hoping I don't have to cut it out, because I'm totally happy with it, taste-wise). Report
I don't drink any soda. The carbonation leaches calcium out of your bones. Studies have shown children with decreased bone density who drink sodas (instead of milk as in the days before soda).

I use stevia sparingly. It tastes different than sugar, but you get used to it. I prefer not to have the blood sugar spikes that sugar gives me. I use a bit of stevia if I have a cup of coffee occasionally or in my oatmeal to give it a slight sweet taste. Report
I use stevia and I like it. Report
I avoid all 'diet' carbonated beverages; if I choose carbonated at all, it's rarely.
As for stevia... I use it for sweetening certain things. My favourite 'treat' is a bowl of kefir (similar to yogurt, but way better in my opinion), sweetened with 4 drops of stevia and for extra flavour 2 drops of vanilla. Yum!!! Report
I have been using Stevia for a few years now. I also have Splenda sometimes just because my MIL thinks she has to have that cause she is diabetic even though Stevia is good for diabetics. I haven't used the Stevia in cooking, just drinks. Report
I started using stevia (from health food store) about a year ago. I like it. It does have a bit of a different taste, but I like it in tea, coffee, and even plain yogurt.

I don't drink much soda, but sometimes I do really want a drink with a bit of fizz and sweetness, and I'll be happy to see drinks with stevia available more widely. I'll still keep away from drinking a lot of Coke/Pepsi (and products made by those companies) though. Report
Stevia does have a bit of a funky taste. To me though it is something you get used to and I use all the time. I am anti-splenda and the like, and try to limit my sugar intake, so stevia is the perfect choice to me. But then you get into these sweeteners such as Truvia and PureVia and they have other attitives. Isn't that counterproductive and the reason we turned to a natural sweetener in the first place? Avoiding these chemically altered products? Seems silly to me, but people will buy into it just the same so mission accomplished for coke and pepsi inc. Report
Finally, I have been waiting for absolutely ever to be able to buy low calorie, non cancer-causing beverages. Report
i have used equal in tea and stevia and splenda when i bake. they are all better than sugar. Report
I use the NuStevia product that is distributed by NuNaturals. Information can be found at . I like this product in tea and coffee. In addition, you can buy it in bulk and use it in baking. Also, some local gardening stores may have Stevia plants for sale. My boyfriend and I actually grew one in our raised bed garden this summer and it did quite well. Just remember to pinch off some of the white flowers occasionally because the flowers rob the sweetness from the leaves. You can simply take the leaves off and bake them in breads or you can crush them and place the leaves in your tea. I belive that this is a nice alternative to those products that use aspertame. Report
I find that al of the diet drinks are much too sweet for me. I crave sugars after drinking them, which defeats the purpose Report
I like that Stevia is natural. It leaves no after-taste in my oats or coffee.
I used to drink diet drinks (3-4) per day and would get headaches soon afterwards. Since I LOVED my diet drinks, they were the last thing on my "list" to test for my mild-severe headaches. However, since giving them up altogether and drinking water, I can't tell you how much better my body feels. If I "have to have" a soft-drink, which is now rare, I limit myself to 4 oz. of the real stuff - and no headaches!!! Report
I just don't drink soda in the first place nor do I use sugar substitutes. I've found that, with all the potential contraindications in sugar substitutes, that it's just easier to watch portions and cook with the whole thing or substitute a tiny bit of blackstrap molasses.

As for the labeling: I can honestly say it caused me to do a double take. I don't see the point of putting extra vitamins and minerals in a carbonated beverage like Coke. It's misleading as it could cause the average consumer to assume that it's therefore healthy and safe to drink more of it. Report
I do not drink diet drinks nor do I use Stevia or the like. Report
I've used Splenda for a few years now. I tried this new fangled stuff when it first came out and ended up giving it away! I didn't like it as it actually tasted sweeter to me. Report
Since joining SP i stopped drinking soda's regular or diet. I'f i am somewhere where all i can get is soda i'll opt for the diet soda, but don't like the after taste. Report
I finally have given up soda since coming to Sparkland! I like stevia and use it in place of sugar in my coffee, oatmeal, etc. Report
I like truvia in my coffee. I can't really taste much of a difference between truvia and sugar. However, I have an entire box of Member's Mark (Sam's Club) of Stevia and DO Not like it. It is way too strong. I will stick with Truvia. Report
As a Type2 Diabetic, This is good news for me, and hopefully products like Sugar-Free Pudding and Jello will also switch over from using Aspartame.

I can't eat/drink ANYTHING that is sweetened with Aspartame, as it makes me physically sick.
I spent an entire day sick to my stomach from having two teaspoons of Sugar Free Jello Pudding that was sweetened with Aspartame. Report
I love stevia! I buy the Truvia kind, though I don't think I've had any other kind.

I use it in my coffee primarily - it makes a lovely mocha!! Report
In my family we have been using natural substitutes for sugar like Stevia, xylitol, erithitol (sp.), and agave for several years. I preferred the xylitol until I discovered Truvia. Truvia has the best taste and texture of any I have tried. I use xylitol for all my baking. I avoid liquids (agave more like honey). They have an unpleasant flavor to me. I will NEVER use sugar again. Report
As someone stated earlier, and for whatever the reason, I prefer Splenda for my espresso. However, I have tried both Truvia and PureVia and thought that Truvia not only tasted better than PureVia, but also had a granulated consistency almost like sugar that PureVia did not. In fact, I thought PureVia had a powdery consistency and a weird tasting after effect. In my opinion, the best part is that the Truvia website states that unlike other sugar substitutes, Truvia will bind molecularly to other ingredients and can be used for baking. The negative part about that is that it has not been dispensed in bulk form as of yet. Report
I've tried Stevia in two forms, liquid and powder, in coffee. I didn't like either one. It's suppossed to be sweeter than sugar, but I couldn't taste it. I'll stick to Splenda.

I will try a commercial drink made with it, though, when I run across one. Report
I was on one of the development panels for a company that Coke contracted to develop a stevia based sweetener. When we were working on it, we were tasting two main kinds, a stevia/sucrose blend, and a pure stevia. (also a bunch of sweetener ideas with sugar alcohols, which were all dreadful...) They were both quite good, and I feel that regular soda fans will enjoy both just as much, in the reduced calorie, and calorie free form. I'm really happy to see stevia becoming more widely accepted commercially. Report
Just wanted to mention that some of the Stevia products out there actually contain other artificial sweeteners (one of the major ones had aspartame in the ingredients). So if you are like me and want to eat natural sweeteners, be careful! I found 100% pure stevia at a health food store. It comes in a little shaker bottle.

Second, what is with the "Plus" label? I thought it was just a new name for the new soda. I didn't know the FDA "regulated" that word. Isn't it silly that the FDA has to regulate words??? Ah well. I'm not going to drink it either way since I don't drink soda except on occasion at restaurants. Report
I love Coke Zero, Pepsi Zero, etc., but my husband has recently begun bombarding me with articles mentioning the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners, (although he also continues to use Sweet n Low in his tea...) I am concerned about using an artifical sweetener so I'm open to trying stevia. I can say in all honesty that I will not be giving up my diet soda, but I have begun reducing the amount I drink per day. I never drank much to begin with, but I try to limit myself to two or so cans a day and some days, I don't drink any. As with all things, moderation is key. I will be watching for diet soda that contains stevia to conduct my own taste test. Report
Will never try diet coke plus. Not a fan of artificial sweeteners or fortified junk food/bev. Have tried Stevia. Ick. Not a fan of stevia, equal/aspartame, nutrasweet/sweet'n'low, splenda/sucralose. But if forced to use one of the aforementioned, I'd opt for the equal. Report
I have not tried either of these and probably wont. I gave up sugar in my drinks almost 4 years ago and dont miss it!
I tried Stevia a long time ago and could not get used to the taste; I prefer Splenda. Report
I am totally with you BETHPROVERBS31, just say NO to JUNK served to us as healthy, PLEASE!!! Report
Growing up we only used artificial sweeteners (mom is a diabetic) I think they have come a long way. I liked stevia. Report
I have been using Stevia for over a year. I am lucky to find it at a discounter buy you can find it in health food stores. I haven't noticed a after taste. I use 1 packet of Stevia in my coffee carafe and it sweetens it just fine.

I think I read somewhere that Splenda Co. closed their plant in the US and took it overseas. Report
UGH! I just checked out Truvia's web site and of course, the ingredients list is vague. But what else could we expect from a company that promotes unhealthy products as healthy? The 3 ingredients listed: Erythritol, which they say is a fermented sugar alcohol they dry and crystallize, Rebiana, which is from the stevia plant, and "Natural Flavors", which offers no explanation other than these unnamed "natural flavors" are used to bring out the sweetness of the product. No thanks....I will stick with my Sweet Leaf brand of pure stevia. Report
I don't drink diet soda PERIOD! Adding vitamins to them does NOT make them more appealing to me and I will never buy them. They are one of the worst so-called "diet" products out there with phosphoric acid and man-made artificial sweeteners that have been linked to all kinds of things. I drink my own brewed green and white teas, hot and iced, and use my juicer to create awesome fruit/veggie drinks and use either stevia-based products or agave nectar to sweeten them. I have not had a chance to check out the new stevia product Truvia yet. How's about reviewing it for us?? Report
I have used Stevia and consider it a really good option for those who don't want to use sugar or honey. Like Splenda or Equal, it doesn't add any extra calories to your food or drink. UNLIKE Splenda or Equal, it's natural and doesn't cause abnormal brainwaves or have any adverse effects. Yes, it does have an aftertaste but you should start with a very small amount and keep adding more to your taste until you get used to how much you should use. To me, the aftertaste is very similar to that of Splenda. Since Stevia is actually a plant leaf, it really is our best natural option after organic sugar or honey. Report
Interesting juxtaposition of articles. I hope folks who normally avoid soda keep moderation in mind when consuming it, no matter if there is a seemingly safe sweetener. According to "Nourishing Traditions", a nutrition reference, by Sally Fallon, the phosphoric acid in sodas, especially colas, can erode bone from the inside out, which can create jaw and tooth decay, no matter which sweetener is used, it's not just the "bad guy" sugar that does this, in fact I question if sugar does it at all. I am glad we didn't use much soda when I was growing up. I enjoy it on occasion, but don't consider it safe for regular consumption. Really glad we can get bottled tea of various types. Report
Stevia is great! When I lived in Brazil as an exchange student I was introduced to it and it does require some getting used! Its natural and does not effect blood sugar levels, no carbs or calories! Whats not to love other than the after taste? Many people who have drank diet soda had to get used to a strange aftertaste anyway! This is a wonderful option but im nervous about soda companies getting into it, they rely heavily on addictive factors of sweeteners I would be suspicious of any other harmful ingredients that may be added to this otherwise wholesome sweetener....Ill be keeping my eye on this! Thanks for the article! Report
I am glad to see that Stevia has been approved "officially". I do like soda, but always have the quandary of going more "natural" with sugar (at least it comes from a plant--but I don't count it as a vegetable or fruit ;-) or the artificial sweeteners with no calories. It's about time the FDA got on board. Stevia, to me, if you use too much has a bit of licorice taste, otherwise it has just as much of a "funny" taste as the artificial sweeteners. Report
Yay! I've used stevia for years and I like the fact that there are hardly any calories and yet it is an herb that has been used since antiquity and is safe.

It does worry me though that the beverage companies are coming up with their own versions of stevia. I'd rather see they are just using it as it is. What have they done to it to make their own trademarked version?

I already buy a mint tea sweetened with stevia and was quite surprised to find there were products available with it. I don't generally drink soft drinks because I don't want to ingest sugar or artificial sweeteners. So I'd be willing to try the stevia versions when they are available in my area.
I have been just fine using sucralose. I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that it's best avoided in favor of "natural" foods if someone is then going to eat something like a TV dinner (even if it's from Amy's) or tofu or bread. By definition most of the food we eat has to be processed first, and at least sucralose doesn't spike my blood sugar like sugar does, or even honey.

I've tried stevia in the past and wasn't that crazy about it, though I like the concept. I did try Truvia, however, when I got samples of it in the mail. *LOVE* It is a combination of the sweet chemical in stevia and erythritol, a sugar alcohol (also known as a polyol). I had tried the latter under the Sun Crystals brand and could barely taste it, but it has a granular texture exactly like table sugar. Put the two together and it has a nice, clean taste.

I don't drink Diet Coke Plus, really don't even like Diet Coke all that much and the only two reasons I drink soda at all are that I find I get migraines more often if I am not intaking caffeine on a regular basis (even after I've gotten through withdrawal), and something about fizzy water is just appealing to me. I'd probably drink seltzer water instead if I didn't find it so nasty-tasting. Report
I had never heard of Stevia until I joined Spark. A few days ago I found a sugar cookie recipe that includes Stevia in it's ingredients so I'm going to find some for the recipe. I want to try it because anything's better than the sweeteners that I've tried. I'm using Splenda but will give it up for something better. As for the Coke, I don't do sodas very often and dark drinks aren't my preference. Report
I've used stevia for many years, both as a sweetener and a supplement. I prefer Stevia Plus which includes a prebiotic nutritional supplement called Inulin Fiber (FOS) which nourishes the friendly bacterial in the intestines. Some of the purported benefits are: Improved regularity, colon cleansing, assisting and strengthening the immune system, preventing the overgrowth of Candida albicans (yeast), and helping control free radicals. Although the taste is somewhat different from sugar, it's easily adjusted to, particularly when you consider foods sweetened with Stevia Plus become better for you! Report
I think stevia will be an acquired taste because it taste different than sugar and other sweeteners. So does real maple syrup. Report
I use stevia 1X per day in my morning cup of tea.

I don't think like the idea of it in sodas, etc. I think the stevia will work in the body like other sweeteners in diet drinks (fooling your body by the sweet and triggering the desire for more). I think people should be discouraged from any soda (diet or otherwise) and steered toward plain water or other healthy choices Report
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