Stevia and coconut palm sugar, beware of labels


The labels of stevia and coconut palm sugar evoke the idea of natural ingredients. However, one should not let one’s guard down on the safety of these sweeteners, still largely to be evaluated.


Stevia rebaudiana
is often found, in leaves, in preparations for infusions. Yet the use of the leaves is not allowed in Europe, due to lack of food safety requirements. (1)

Theonlyingredient allowed is an extract of the plant, the additive with sweetening function ‘steviol glycosides.

So be careful to readthe ingredient list on labels that mention Stevia; if it is not steviol glycosides, the product is outlawed, and potentially dangerous.



(2 ) from coconut palms, in turn, is often presented as a naturally derived sweetener. It is obtained from thesap in the flower buds of some tropical palms, (3) by an actually simple process .

The characteristic flavor is reminiscent of that of licorice. Traditional use takes place in Southeast Asia, in desserts but also in various typical dishes, such as pad thai and Thai red curry.

Small detail not to be overlooked, it is most likely a so-called.
‘novel food’
. (5) That is, a food whose safety for consumers must be verified, by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). And only then can the Commission authorize its sale in Europe.

Dario Dongo and Andrea Piccoli


(1 )European Commission Decision No. 2000/196/EC.

(2) Thedesignation sugar‘ is inapplicable due to, among other things, a lack of requirements in European industry regulations

(3) Palms of the genere
, species
in particular

(4) Riscaldamento of the lymph to reduce moisture and subsequent crystallization of the thick syrup that resulting from it

(5) Unless the operator interested in its trade in Europe can prove food consumption, on the old continent, before 1997. Cf. reg. EU no. 2283/2015

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