The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 December 2003

Bitter aftertaste in advance

Lynn S. was opening up a packet of tea when she noticed, down among the ingredients, a "dietary supplement" called stevia. Formally, it's Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni; it's apparently called a "dietary supplement" because the Food and Drug Administration considers it an unsafe food additive, and has apparently taken extreme measures to make sure that people avoid it.

And just what's so bad about stevia? It's a natural sweetener, generally lacking in the nasty side effects of the artificial varieties; it's tempting to conclude that the FDA bars its use as a sweetener in an effort to protect the manufacturers of the fake stuff and the politically-potent sugar lobby. Maybe. The FDA's general stance on stuff like this has been, generally, if one person in South Succotash comes down with a case of the green-apple quick-step, there ought to be an investigation. On the other hand, prescription drugs are routinely advertised on television with a list of side effects that would worry a rhinoceros, so the FDA's concern would seem to be something less than all-consuming.

The FDA, you'll remember, was quick to chime in when the Justice Department clamped down on the reimportation of drugs from Canada and other exotic lands, claiming they couldn't guarantee the safety of a pill that had been shipped from San Francisco to Saskatoon and back again. Inasmuch as technically they can't guarantee the safety of a pill I pick up from the drive-through window at Osco, I'm inclined to believe they're just repeating what they're told to repeat.

Posted at 10:02 AM to Worth a Fork


TrackBack: 12:01 PM, 3 December 2003
» Pass the herbal-based cane substitute from Pyrojection
There's an interesting comment from dustbury on the FDA's reticence to embrace stevia as an artificial sweetener. And just what's so bad about stevia? It's a natural sweetener, generally lacking in the nasty side effects of the artificial varieties; it......[read more]