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Sell stevia, face legal action

18 Comments
Sep 15, 2011 | From the print edition

Food Standards Authority says natural sweetener not a food item
 

IT HAS been touted as a healthy, natural sweetener but according to the law, stevia cannot be used. In fact, one may face legal action if caught selling stevia in any form, says the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

On July 26, FSSAI issued a notification clarifying that stevia is not a food item. However, currently a scientific panel in FSSAI is considering whether stevia can be approved as a food item.

Stevia leaves contain stevioside, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar.

The notification has irked the stevia industry. Saurabh Agrawal, CEO of India Stevia Association, asks, “Why was stevia allowed in the market for the past so many years if is unapproved?” FSSAI is well aware of its presence in the market, he adds. Dhir Singh, assistant director general of Prevention for Food Adulteration, refused to comment on the issue. The industry suspects the hand of the lobby backing aspartame, an approved artificial sweetener, behind the non-approval of stevia. Artificial sweeteners have been mired in controversy as some of them have been found to be carcinogenic (‘No to natural sweetener’, Down To Earth, October 1-15, 2010).

S S Agrawal, pharmacologist at the Delhi Institute of Pharmacy and Research, asks, “Why only stevia is being targeted when so many other unapproved food items are available in the market?” He says, “FSSAI should give a scientific reason for not allowing stevia.”

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Mr. Arun, its quite unfortunate that Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a notice no. : P.15025/133/2011-PFA/FSSAI dated 26-7-11, banning Stevia in India. By way of this notice FSSAI has BANNED Stevia to be sold in India as food additive and even standalone. This notice is quite surprising and seems that FSSAI is not aware of what Stevia is. In its notice FSSAI have also mentioned Stevia as Artificial Sweetener which is also not true.

Ironically, every citizen of India will be surprised to know that many Indian Govt. organizations are working on Stevia for more then a decade and claim to have achieved breakthrough achievement in Stevia Cultivation techniques.

A government organization under same Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is providing Subsidy to Farmers from many years to grow more and more Stevia (Proclaim as banned product by FSSAI ) in India.

At the same time, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology ( IHBT ), a constituent laboratory of CSIR ( Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) India, also claimed to have developed a stevia processing technology and obtained its patent spending lots of time and Government money of a product which is now banned by FSSAI, by way of this notice.

Today more then 40 private labels of Stevia products are openly selling in the market, all over India.

Paradoxically local PFA offices in many states are issuing manufacturing licenses to companies to manufacture stevia consumer products.

Every body very well knows that Stevia is a Natural Sweetener which has ZERO CALORIE properties and is far better then the permissible and available artificial sweeteners in the market. It seems due to some vested interests and lack of proper knowledge there is redundant opposition and reluctance to approve this wonderful sweetener which is now the first choice of calorie conscious and people suffering from diabetes all around the world.

On one hand FSSAI is approving usage of artificial sweeteners like Acesulfame potassium (also called Acesulfame K ) and Aspartame which are chemicals and only chemicals and are still under research for their safe use and on the other side Stevia which is now approved by US FDA, European Food Safety Administration ( EFSA) and with Japan using it from last 2 decades without showing any ill effect, is abruptly banned in India, without giving any valid reason.

Today Govt. of India is not giving importance to Stevia. There is no point why Indians shall not get benefited by this wonderful zero calorie natural sweetener. There is so much of potential in stevia cultivation that it may generate employment and substantially uplift the economic condition of Indian farmers, as stevia is very lucrative cash crop.

To create awareness on benefits of Stevia, ‘India Stevia Association’ jointly with ‘Stevia Global Forum’ organized the very first ‘Stevia Global Conference 2010’ at FICCI New Delhi on 13 July 2010.Later IHBT Palampur has also conducted a symposium on stevia, which was addressed by stevia experts and well attended by different stakeholders in stevia.

Subsequently, India Stevia Association organized 2nd global conference on Stevia at FICCI New Delhi on 27 March 2011, the medical fraternity, stevia experts from Europe and America, representatives of large food and beverages companies and farmers from different states of India were present; details could be found on www.steviaglobalforum.com , we have also scheduled 3rd conference in October 2011, next month, which will be attended by the stake holders in Stevia business, from all over the world.

‘Stevia is not a threat to Sugar and Sugarcane Farmers’, I can say this very confidently that Stevia Natural Sweetener can never prove to be a competitor of Sugar, it will rather compliment it and support it in situation of deficit production of sugar and save valuable foreign exchange in importation of sugar.

We at India Stevia Association ( ISA ) with strong 124 members group of farmers, food and beverages, confectionery and health product manufacturers and processors will like to take this issue further with FSSAI and related government departments, so that Stevia Natural Sweetener is permitted as food additive in India, earliest possible, which will lead to large scale cultivation in India. Visit www.indiasteviaassociation.in

Recently my company Stevia Biotech Pvt. Ltd. have signed JV with Paraguay ( South America ) based 'NL Stevia' a leading company which is cultivating and processing stevia from last 20 years, to go for large scale cultivation in India in different states and further establish a high-tech processing and refining unit in India to export Stevia Concentrate Powder to USA, European and Gulf countries, which will not only earn foreign exchange for the country but also involve Indian farmers in different states to grow stevia and uplift their economic condition, development of unique varieties of Stevia Planting material and environmental studies are underway.

I call upon farmers, growers, budding stevia products manufacturers, organization researching on stevia and every one concern with low calorie and healthier products to come together and put matter before the Scientific Panel of Food Ingredients appointed by FSSAI with the load of researches done by Indian and international organization.

I also call upon doctors, dieticians, food researchers and natural food product lovers to come forward and recommend usage of Stevia to live a healthier life and request FSSAI to go through the outcome of latest Codex Meeting held in Geneva, before mentioning Stevia as an “Artificial Sweetener”.

Hope FSSAI will consider the outcomes of world wide researches and recommendations and approval by world known health regulatory organizations like JACFA, WHO, US FDA, Codex and European Food Safety Authority and approve stevia as food ingredient without any delay and allow Indian population which is suffering from diabetes and obesity to get more and more Natural Low Calorie products and live a healthier life.

India Stevia Association have all relevant documents which are duly recognized by JACFA, WHO, US FDA, Codex and European Food Safety Authority for approving stevia as safe natural sweetener, to be used in food products and ready to discuss in length upon it.

FSSAI shall earliest come out with clear mandate of approving Stevia Natural Sweetener as food additive, which will give way to thousands of zero calorie health products.

Looking forward the support and blessings of all health and calorie conscious people, around the world.

Sourabh Agarwal
Chief Executive
India Stevia Association ( ISA )
New Delhi, India
Handy: 0 9811988880
indiasteviaassociation@gmail.com
www.indiasteviaassociation.in
www.steviaglobalforum.com

1 September 2011
Posted by
Sourabh Agarwal

Dear Mr.Agarwal,

Am C.Ali, a senior food Technologist in Kerala. I have gone through your press release. Am really happy that some scientific person has come out with a scientific view on at least on one issue on FSSAI.

Its a pity that FSSAI has very few practicing scientist and Technologist from the field of food processing. Am not sure if it is a policy of FAASI or by just an incident. From the way, the FSSAI taken up the issue without showing any scientific reasons.

It says that stevia and sucralose are not mentioned in PFA, 1954, 1955 rules. It is a case of some rules formulated about 57 years back. Am not sure these products produced commercially or available in the market at that time. FSSAI doesn’t say that these products were banned in PFA, 1954. There are many modern additives for food discovered and developed during the past 6 decades.

I don’t understand the wisdom of the authorities to conduct new research on the safety of these additives when the developed countries all over the world have approved and are widely using these items. Have we to discover the wheel again?

I don’t find anything wrong if someone suspect the hands of the sugar lobby in India behind this hunt against the sugar substitutes.

Wishing you all the best and assuring you my full cooperation and support for your crusade against such unscientific and anti-industry moves of any government or authority.
Sincerely your’s
C.Ali

2 September 2011
Posted by
C.Ali

In the 1500 years of use of stevia by the indigenous people of Paraguay and in the 20 years of commercial use in Japan, no harmful side effect has ever been recorded as the body metabolizes the sweetening agents of stevia just like any other glycoside.

Stevia is suitable natural non synthetic alternative sweetener for diabetes and phenylketonuria patients as well as for obese persons intending to lose weight and till date no allergic reaction to it was claimed to exist. It is pH stable, non fermentative, flavor enhancing, heat stable and clinically tested.

For awareness purpose for Indian law making authorities, Stevia is approved as food additive by National Health Inspection Authorities in China; in Australia, it is listed under the Australia Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)- 1999; US FDA-1994 approve stevia for usage as dietary supplement (GRAS); Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of World Health Organization (JECFA) also granted permission in 2004 to use stevia as a food additive.

FSSAI must provide the scientific basis of such notice which is contradictory to the research findings globally.

Most importantly, government authority should consider that now people are not unaware or uneducated in India, esp for food related issues before generating such notices.

6 September 2011
Posted by
Radha Sharma

I don't know what exactly reason of the banning stevia. There are two aspect first in the notification it is written "Artificial", Stevia is not a Artificial sweetener, it is a Natural Sweetner. The system which have issued this notice is not clear about the basic of the stevia.

Even WHO,FAO has approved stevia as a sweetener.

What are basic reason to ban stevia by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Thanks and Regards

Ganesh Prajapat
(Executive Director)
ACI Agrosolution
G-33, Golden Times Tower,
Central Spine, Vidyadhar Nagar
Jaipur ( Rajasthan) India
Contact +91-9509888669, 7597920642
Tel :- +91-141-2339608
Email :- executivedirectoraci@gmail.com
Web page :- www.stevia.blogspot.com

13 September 2011
Posted by
Ganesh Prajapat

Why the the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)is banning stevia in India that is questionable .

At least you should give some statics behind banning there are many people in India who has engaged in cultivation of Stevia .

Is is quit sad news for us who is looking there future aspect in stevia field.

Stevia is approved globally approved then its Indian FSSAI responsibility that he should give proper answer .

Regards

Amit kumar singh
Sparsh Herbals Pvt.Ltd.

9450033492

22 September 2011
Posted by
Amit kumar singh

For last few months I have been trying hard to popularize stevia in north eastern states,and I would continue to do so.I would also request the Government to exempt stevia extract from vat.
I would condemn FSSAI , for banning of stevia in India and request the association of stevia to knock the door of the court for an inquiry,into the whole matter to unearth any possible scam behind this banning.

2 February 2012
Posted by
PJ Chakrabarty

FSSAI is doing to India what the FDA is and has for a long time doing to USA

The FDA has approved a sweetener developed from an active agent of stevia (patented) by coca-cola and pepsiCo but still holds up and calls it illegal if any sweetener product is developed from Natural Stevia Whole Plant. Does this tell you anything?

The artificial sweetener lobby is a very strong one that can influence FDA's ruling. Stevia is still banned and its sale and trade is restricted and illegal though its farming and its use dates back to over 1.500 years.

Several studies point to the fact that stevia is healthy alternative to existing sources of sweeteners and considerably brings down your cravings for sweet (read slow poisoning)

Take care of your own health. Look for alternatives.

7 April 2012
Posted by
Saji

I think things are moving for people associated with stevia in india.just came across a recent news article.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/natural-sweetener-stevia-cle...

i want to enter into commercial cultivation of Stevia. Any kind of suggestions/advice is highly desired.

22 April 2012
Posted by
Manas Agarwal

we want to grow stevia in state of Punjab and want to popularise its cultivation in the Punjab state. Any hepl please?

2 May 2012
Posted by
HARBANS

We should challenge in the court of law and should not entertain such idiosyncrasies of government authorities who too have wasted interest with certain lobbies.

9 October 2012
Posted by
Shailesh Rao

I read the notification it mentions that Steiva as artifitial sweetner is not permited. It may be in the good context that if some company is marketing stevia sweetner in any form and mentioning it as artifitial sweetner then that documentation is not permited. It no where clearly tells about the ban on stevia products or as natural sweetner.So it reuqires the clarification from the notification serving authority and the intent of the same can be asked under the right to information act. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is legaly bound to give the clarification about the doubts if asked to them. And can be suggested to clarify the meaning of the above notification in the wide interest of the citizens of this country.

29 November 2012
Posted by
Madhusudan

I wish to grow Stevia in a pot so that I can help my old mother who is suffering from Liver Disease and is at risk of developing cancer. She has a sweet tooth and likes sugar too much.

Can any knowledgeable member kindly help me find out where I can find a stevia plant to grow in a pot for her?

I would really appreciate your help!

best wishes,

Romi
ekshringa13(at)gmail.com

21 October 2013
Posted by
Anonymous

Please get in touch with Saurabh Agrawal who manages a firm called Stevia biotech pvt ltd

His number +91-9811988880, 9811941088

23 October 2013
Posted by
Ankur

Under RTI, FSSAI confirmed that stevia is approved and a notification is under issue.

24 November 2013
Posted by
Ramana Rao KV

It was very great surprise to me when i didn't got any information of stevia plantation in 'Krushi Pradadrshan' held 4 days before in Pune. Even The dept. of agriculture people doesn't unable to answer how should i move for plantation of stevia.
I was just searching on net & I got lots of friends like you who are extremely interested. I thanks to Mr. Sourabh Sir he has given lots of information.
My by heart wishes are with you.
thanks and regards
vinayak Walekar
Pune

26 November 2013
Posted by
Vinayak Walekar

Artificial sweetener manufacturers have bribed our corrupt officials. With so many diabetics in India, they have obviously had a whale of a time. Stevia could have destroyed them all. But there's a way around this dear folks. Sell the plant- or leaves of the plant. Now there's no law to prevent me from buying a rose plant or rose petals. Let's say I want to plant it in my garden. What I do with the plant or leaves is not the concern of the government. By simple boiling one can extract 30% rebaudioside. Good enough. Carefully market or advertise it though.
It's really sad, no one is there to regulate Ayurvedic products, Himalaya can get away with anything, but poor well-meaning stevia is stuck in bureaucracy.

26 February 2014
Posted by
Radhika

It is very surprising move by FSSAI , food laws in the country does not consider stevia as artificial sweetener without any concrete reason. How WHO, FDA and European Union including Japan permits same.
Scientific community need to come foreward and raise voice against such prohibition.
Regards,
H N Desai

4 September 2014
Posted by
Anonymous

I want to grow it in Chennai we have very dark grey clay soil can this grow there we have about 2 acres of the land.

16 October 2014
Posted by
RAJESH PRAVIN SHAH

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