The FDA & Stevia

“The incestuous relationship between government and big business thrives in the dark.” – Jack Anderson

While the American public has waited in vain for a safe artificial sweetener to be developed, citizens of certain other countries have for years — in some cases, for centuries — enjoyed a safe, natural sweetener that is virtually calorie-free and to which many other health benefits have been attributed. This miracle sweetener is a South American herb called Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni — commonly known simply as stevia, estimated to be some 150 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration since the mid-1980s has labeled stevia an “unsafe food additive” and gone to extensive lengths to keep it off the U.S. market — including initiating a search-and-seizure campaign and full-fledged “import alert.”

To judge from the extensive measures the FDA has employed to keep Americans in the dark about stevia, one might assume it was some type of dangerous narcotic. But, in fact, no ill effects have ever been attributed to it, although it has been used by millions of people around the world, in some locales for hundreds of years.

So adamant has the FDA remained on the subject, that even though stevia can now be legally marketed as a dietary supplement under legislation enacted in 1994, any mention of its possible use as a sweetener or tea is still strictly prohibited.

Now that stevia has been designated as “unsafe” — almost certainly to benefit the politically powerful sweetener industry — the agency has insisted on stonewalling any and all evidence to the contrary. Once the FDA makes a decision, neither practical experience nor scientific research is likely to bring about a reversal of its position.

As Rob McCaleb, president and founder of the Herb Research Foundation, puts it: “Sweetness is big money. Nobody wants to see something cheap and easy to grow on the market competing with the things they worked so hard to get approved.”

Copies of the documents referred to on these pages should be available to anyone who wishes to make a Freedom of Information Act request to the FDA. For more information on making a FOIA request, check out the FDA Web site at:

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Burt April 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

I’ve been using PureVia for the past three years, and I haven’t noticed any adverse side-effects. No rashes, sores, or stomach aches. And by the way, I am extremely allergic to ragweed (a 4+ on the 0-5 scale my doctor uses). I stir three packets into a glass of green tea one to three times per day. It’s helped me cut down on my consumption of caffeinated soft drinks (my one and only addiction). I know PureVia isn’t exactly pure Stevia (it contains Dextrose), but it does contain Stevia, tastes good, and has virtually no calories. I have tried Kal pure Stevia and had no problems with it either. I’ve read the posts on this site about people having all sorts of problems with various forms of Stevia, and all I can think of is the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy I learned in college logic. That is, if A occurs after B, then B caused A. I just don’t buy all this “anecdotal evidence,” and I’ll keep on using Stevia. I’ll let y’all know if it kills me.


Burt April 26, 2015 at 9:46 pm

I guess I should also point out that PureVia is GRAS (generally regarded as safe) to the FDA.


Dr.Mutlaq October 29, 2014 at 6:37 am

So adamant has the FDA remained on the subject, that even though stevia can now be legally marketed as a dietary supplement under legislation enacted in 1994, any mention of its possible use as a sweetener or tea is still strictly prohibited.

Now that stevia has been designated as “unsafe” — almost certainly to benefit the politically powerful sweetener industry — the agency has insisted on stonewalling any and all evidence to the contrary. Once the FDA makes a decision, neither practical experience nor scientific research is likely to bring about a reversal of its position.


andy supra July 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm

any how stevia is better then white suger


ilean May 25, 2015 at 8:55 pm

..but for thousands of years Stevia has been used as a potent anti fertility agent and no one here mentioned anything about that !


Hope July 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

My sister started using Stevia 2 weeks ago, she broke out in a terrible, itchy rash on her body, unfortunately she did not do her homework before using Stevia. She is allergic to ragweed and is a type 2 diabetic. Her doctor told her that the allergy to ragweed and the Metformin she takes for her diabetes both caused the Stevia to cause a horrible rash. Her husband takes medication for high blood pressure and he was told by the same doctor to stop taking Stevia. I think that further testing is warranted by the FDA before this should be approved.


Scott Carpenter May 20, 2013 at 11:11 pm

The fact of the matter here is that unless each of us individually conducts the appropriate tests to ascertain whether or not stevia is safe there will be a leap of faith involved. I comprehensively read through all of the information at both and regarding the known safety issues. I have also read numerous reports/articles/blogs from people hailing from South America that will tout the benefits of stevia based upon “centuries of use and research.”

It all comes down to which government/tradition do you trust the most. Having worked as a professional chef for over 20 years in the United States I will say without hesitation that I have the utmost respect for the FDA and will gladly place my faith in the system with the most rigorous and advanced testing in the world.

Lastly, and completely off topic, Vince (last post) you are an idiot.


John Bowling December 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm

The reason why Stevia was not approved to begin with by the FDA was due exclusively to the influence of companies that wanted to sell their company made, dangerous, unhealthy sweeteners. In fact, the head of the FDA during the approval of Aspertame was offered a high level job with the manufacturer, and left the FDA shortly after that to take that position.

I do not trust the FDA to be anything but a dangerous drug promoting body. Look at all the drugs that are approved and then recalled or sued because of all the damage they do. Is that process protecting people? NO! It is promoting dangerous products with NO oversight! They do NOT care if an approved product harms or kills you, as long as there are profits to be made and bribes to get!

And their recommendations about ?healthy? diets is also corrupted by business interests.


Shan April 13, 2015 at 3:46 am

Totally agree.


Steve November 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Looks like they have caught on finally, “equal” in Australia is now selling stevia, still has chems in it though which is pretty cheeky. I use all 100% natural plant extract, hopefully Equal doesnt put the smaller healthier alternatives out of business.


Mark April 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Can you send me official reports about this “health benefits” coming from the assumption of Stevia?
How much? In what form? How long will it take to give benefits? Because of what?
I don’t mean consumer’s satisfaction, I mean facts, numbers.



sandra February 23, 2012 at 1:54 am

I am so happy to find this information. I am trying to help a young woman at work that has gestional diabetes. Unfortunatly the doctor or doctors at Shands pregnancy center is telling her Stevia is not FDA approved. I have been serching for good info for her and this website is right on. Thank you so much for spreading good news. I have printed this artical and will be delighted to give it to her.


Larry February 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Being a diabetic is a challenge, especially if you need a natural sweetener that will not affect your glucose level in the blood.
Stevia being a natural sweetener from a plant extract is perfect for controlling type 2
Diabetes. The research I have read confirms any doubts that this sweetener has any harmful affects. Thank you Stevia
Chicago IL


Laurie January 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Stevia is a safe sweetener. It is natural and not dangerous for you like high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners which are KNOWN to cause cancer. Stevia is from a natural plant, much like sugar, and it tastes much better than that artificial crap! The FDA Stevia into our food because it is something that is actually good for us, but they dont hesitate to allow arsenic in our juices, PBA in our canned goods, BVO in some sodas, floride in our drinking water, high fructose corn syrup in almost everything and the list can go on……Then everyone wonders why there is so much cancer and illnesses in the country. It all comes from the air we breath, the water we drink and the food we eat. Who controls most of that? The FDA…….

The FDA sucks!


Shan April 13, 2015 at 3:51 am

You are quite right.


Steve December 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I am currently taking Stevia in my coffee and every thing to cereal breakfast etc. Taste good to me and I believe the FDA is keeping this from us because they are being bought out by the artificial and sugar industries as are the medical drugs getting into our hospitals by big companies having their way instead of whats good for you taking precedence.


Lynn October 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I was visiting my daughter in Saudi Arabia and bought a product called “Steviana”. I used it as a sweetener in my coffee and it tasted fine. Does anyone have any information on this product.


Carole Davis October 12, 2011 at 12:26 am

To Beverly L. Gibson,
If, in fact it was the stevia that made you ill, you are the FIRST person in the history of the world who was sickened by stevia. I hope you didn’t conact the FDA because they don’t need any excuse to start harassing importers of stevia again!


Beverly L. Gibson April 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm

What most layment fail to understand is, that diabetics cannot tolerate any prepared food containing sugar. Whether it is sugar from sugar cane, from a plant or from a tree. Sugar by any other name, is still sugar.

I have been ill since having had Easter dinner at my son and daughter-in-law’s home. I love this lady with all my heart. However, she works at a health-food store and is a true believer in This young woman served me a very small portion of desert containing Stevia. My next letter or email will be sent to the FDA, who no doubt will be receiving many more.


Mary Anne June 5, 2011 at 12:46 am

Sugar is not the only thing that diabetics need to watch for. All Starches turn to sugar in the human body. Most deserts contain starch in one form or another.


Drew September 2, 2011 at 5:39 pm


You need to educate yourself on everything that can cause adverse effects on diabetics.

You don’t need to watch out only for sugar.


Teresa December 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Please educate yourself before involving and watsting people being paid by taxpayer dollars. First, be smart enough to know that one incident of ANYTHING does NOT prove ANYTHING!!! Since it was a holiday dinner that you, yourself did not prepare, there could have been any number of things that could have caused you to become ill…jumping to the conclusion that it must have been the stevia is not sound logical thinking and cettainly nothing that could be the basis of any medical conclusion. Second, we are humans and we have been known to have allergies to many things from common to uncommon and natural to man-made. Before condemning a product clearly used safely by half the world, perhaps you should investigate if you are allergic to it as there are Food Allergy Blood Tests done easily through your doctor by a company called ALLCAT TESTING that can test you for many things. I know this because I have had it more than once, and I personally am allergic to Cane Sugar, Maple Syrup, and All Artificial sweetners with the Exceptions od Xylitol and Stevia. So before you involve other government agencies and go one line to make unfounded accusations, think a littler smarter, be a little smarter, and educate yourself with facts.


Ruth April 18, 2014 at 9:45 pm

About 5 months ago I switched from using Equal (aspartame) in my tea to using Stevia. It has given me sore throats constantly – at first I did not realize it was the Stevia causing the problem, but I have now confirmed that it definitely IS the Stevia, based on an elimination process. I am a scientist, and I am careful not to jump to conclusions. Based on the pattern of my health, I now believe that both Aspartame and Stevia have had an adverse effect on me – but the Stevia effect has been more obvious and more immediate – a sore throat, difficulty speaking due to scratchy throat (I am a teacher so this is a problem), and sleep problems. So Beverly Gibson is not the only, or the first, person in the world to be ill from Stevia. Since having this problem I have searched reliable sources – all agree that some people show an allergic response to Stevia (which comes from a plant closely related to ragweed, which causes many allergies).

The effect on me is obvious – within 1 hour of consuming a small quantity of Stevia in my tea, the sore throat symptoms are obvious and unpleasant. So in this instance the FDA is right to want more testing.


Carol January 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm

I too get a sore throat from Stevia. For the longest time(over 6 months at least) I was plagued by a constant sore throat and hoarseness. Could not imagine what could be causing it. I am not normally a very allergic person so that possibility did not cross my mind. I first went to my GP and she put me on a round of antibiotics to no avail. Then I got worried and went to an ENT doctor. He couldn’t find anything too serious but put me on a Medrol dose pack(cortisone). O.K. to make a long story short, after a ton of test, a ton of frustration, lots of visits to doctors and a lot of unnecessary meds, nothing was resolved and I was still suffering from the sore throat. One day I decided to stop using the daily stevia in my morning coffee just to see if by chance it could be causing the problem, by this point I was desperate. Well within one full day of stopping the stevia, the sore throat had cleared up and has not returned! So I don’t think it is as safe as some people want to believe. Buyer beware!


Wendy June 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

I have had a sore throat for a couple days now. Have been using the green stevia in the raw packets in my tea for the same time. That’s why I’m looking at this because I’m thinking it could be the stevia. I read something about being allergic to ragweed and using stevia can be related. Not sure if I am allergic, but I’m doing my research and am stopping it’s use for a while until I know for sure.


Shan April 13, 2015 at 4:14 am

Stevia is not the culprit. Diabetics cannot tolerate any type of carbohydrate; that is starchy food and sugary food. Whatever the starchy or sugary food that you consume, turn into glucose after the digestion. You body need to produce adequate amount of insulin to convert that glucose into glycogen and store it in the liver for future use. People who have diabetes are unable to go through this natural process, so they are left with excess glucose in their blood, which is disastrous. It leads to strokes, heart attacks, blindness, numbness of the feet, fatty liver etc.


Jessica Mendez February 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm

As a citizen of the USA, I would appreciate you sending me any and all information regarding the herb STEVIA. THANK YOU.

Ms. Mendez.


Vince January 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

As a citizen of Canada, who gives a damn if you are a citizen of the USA. This day and age, I’d be careful about broadcasting that too much.


Lewis June 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Vince, the real question is who gives a damn if you are a canadian, yawwwwnnnn, what a bore….


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