Rebiana stevia product extracted from the stevia plant, safety and risk
September 1 2017

Rebiana is a zero-calorie, natural, high-potency sweetener derived from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and comprising almost pure rebaudioside A.

How it was developed and safety
Development of rebiana, a natural, non-caloric sweetener.
Food Chem Toxicology. 2008. The Coca-Cola Company, One Coca-Cola Plaza, Atlanta, GA, United States.
Rebiana is the common name for high-purity rebaudioside A, a natural non-calorie sweetener 200-300 times more potent than sucrose. It provides zero calories and has a clean, sweet taste with no significant undesirable taste characteristics. It is functional in a wide array of beverages and foods and can be blended with other non-calorie or carbohydrate sweeteners. It is stable under dry conditions, and has much better stability than aspartame or neotame in aqueous food systems. Studies undertaken for the development of a purification process and for the full characterization of the properties of rebiana are reported here.

Rebiana stability study
Photostability of rebaudioside A and stevioside in beverages.
J Agric Food Chem. 2008. The Coca-Cola Company, One Coca-Cola Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The Coca-Cola Company and Cargill, Inc. have initiated the development and commercialization of the Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) derived sweetener rebaudioside A. Efforts were focused on high purity rebaudioside A (>97% by HPLC), commonly known as rebiana. In the course of the development program, extensive stability studies were carried out on rebiana, all supporting good stability for use in all food and beverage applications, including conditions where rebiana sweetened beverages were exposed to light. Our findings on rebiana light stability refute those of an earlier study that suggested rebaudioside A to be unstable to sunlight exposure, while the structurally homologous stevioside is stable. We replicated the earlier study and found no significant photodegradation for either rebaudioside A or stevioside.

Coca-Cola and Cargill are throwing their weight into the highly competitive sweetener market with a no-calorie, natural sweetener derived from the South American stevia plant. Coca-Cola has already filed 24 patents for its use in products ranging from vitamins to cereals and will have exclusive rights to develop and sell rebiana in beverages. Cargill plans to market the stevia sweetener for use in products such as yoghurt, cereals, ice cream and candy as well as tabletop use. But regulatory hurdles remain, as stevia is not approved for use as a food ingredient in the US or the European Union due to a 1985 study that indicated stevia may cause liver problems. In those jurisdictions, it only has authorisation as a dietary supplement.

This has been a gripe of the stevia industry for more than a decade but so far its efforts to gain GRAS approval have fallen on deaf US Food and Drug Administration ears. The EU has also refused to budge, citing a lack of safety data and research indicating potential fertility problems among males. Stevia suppliers hope the might of a joint Coca-Cola and Cargill regulatory and scientific submission will be able to sway the regulator and allow the natural sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sugar to be used in foodstuffs. 

A 2006 World Health Organization report found no major toxicity risks for stevia, but called for more research into the herb's effect on hypertension and blood-sugar levels. Coca-Cola and Cargill said they will market rebiana in the 12 countries where stevia is approved as a food additive, including Japan, Brazil and China, while seeking regulatory approval in the US and the EU. They said it would take up to two years for the ingredient to fully come online as partnerships with Chinese, Paraguayan and Argentinian growers are nurtured. Coca-Cola which has spent more than a decade working on stevia said it had found a way to isolate and extract the sweetest elements of the stevia leaf and therefore overcome the slightly bitter, liquorice taste typically associated with it.

Coca-Cola didn't say which of its beverages would incorporate the sweetener, but noted Powerade in Japan had been sweetened with stevia and that the recipe for its original Coke would not be altered. James May, president and founder of stevia specialist Wisdom Natural Brands, based in Arizona, dominates US stevia sales with most of a $16 million market.

Journal Food Science. 2011. Sweetness concentration-response behavior of rebiana at room and refrigerator temperatures. Rebiana is a zero-calorie, natural, high-potency sweetener derived from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and comprising almost pure rebaudioside A. Reliable information on its sweetness concentration-response (C-R) behavior is fundamental to rebiana's use as an ingredient. The response curve of rebiana in room-temperature (21 C) and refrigerated (5 C) water was determined using 2-alternative forced choice discrimination tests with a minimum of 70 tasters. From a series of panels the proportion of tasters finding different sucrose concentrations sweeter than a fixed concentration of rebiana was plotted against sucrose concentration. The resultant sigmoid curves were linearized by transforming the ordinate axis to a probability scale. This aided experimental design and determination of isosweet concentrations. The latter were deemed to be the sucrose concentration at which 50% of tasters found it to be the sweeter of the pair. Isosweet concentrations of sucrose for seven rebiana concentrations up to 600 mg/L were used to construct a C-R curve for each temperature. Equations were derived for the resultant hyperbolic curves. Rebiana is significantly more potent in cold water. Rebiana is a new, zero-calorie, natural, high-potency sweetener derived from the Stevia plant. We have measured the sweetness of rebiana over a range of concentrations at room and refrigerator temperatures. This information will help developers of low-calorie products get the right sweetness level when replacing sugar with rebiana.

Cargill introduced TRUVIA, a sweetener made from rebiana for use in foods and beverages. In partnership with Coca-Cola, Cargill spent years evaluating stevia ingredients for safety and perfecting ways to extract, what they consider, a sweet tasting component of the stevia plant, called rebaudioside A. Research, funded by Cargill, and published electronically on May 16, 2008, in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, demonstrated the safety of rebiana for use in sweetened food and beverages. TRUVIA is rebiana, not stevia. Both stevia and rebiana come from the leaves of the stevia plant. Rebiana is a high-purity, fully-characterized extract that is consistently produced to a food-grade specification by Cargill.
   Steviol glycosides are the sweet components of the stevia leaf. There are various kinds of steviol glycosides, but the two most abundant types are stevioside and rebaudioside A. Stevioside is the most abundant steviol glycoside in the stevia leaf, and the most studied. Rebaudioside A is the best-tasting steviol glycoside. It is broken down by the body into the same basic parts as stevioside. Rebiana is a 97-percent pure extract of rebaudioside A. It is the first high-purity, well-characterized form of rebaudioside A. Steviol is the substance produced when the body breaks down steviol glycosides in the colon. Source: Cargill, Overview of the Rebiana Research Program, 2008.