Stevia: The FDA’s Dubious Double Standard

I’ve written a number of times about my favorite sweetener, stevia. It has no calories, it tastes great, and it doesn’t raise your blood sugar. Nor does it come with the potential side effects (like cancer and neurological disorders) of artificial sweeteners. This prompted an ETR reader to ask:

“It seems like everything we use to sweeten food causes health problems. But what about the naturally sweet herb – stevia? Why aren’t more manufacturers using stevia instead of sugar, fructose, aspartame, or high fructose corn syrup? Could it be that stevia costs too much?”

It is not because stevia costs too much. Unfortunately, it involves politics.

Stevia cannot be patented, so it does not have the profit potential of artificial sweeteners. And because it’s much safer, it represents a threat to the multi-billion-dollar artificial sweetener industry. So, these companies have used their lobbying power to wage a campaign against it. And despite the fact that stevia has been used safely for centuries, it was BANNED by the FDA for years – and was even subjected to armed seizures of its manufacturing and storage facilities.

Stevia is no longer banned, but it can only be marketed as a “dietary supplement.” It cannot be sold as a “sweetener” or used as a “food additive.” That’s why you don’t see it in foods, tea, and soft drinks (as it is used in other countries).

[Ed. Note: We want to hear from you. Do you use stevia? What has been your experience with it? And what do you think about the FDA’s double standard – granting carte blanche to the companies that produce artificial sweeteners while restricting our access to this safe, natural alternative? Visit the ETR Speak Out Forum and tell us what you think.]


Jon Herring is the former Health Editor and copywriter for Early To Rise. While his formal education is in finance, Jon has invested over 3000 hours in the study of health and nutrition. He is deeply motivated to provide people with the information and the inspiration to live a long and active life, filled with energy and free from disease. Jon has also been a student of direct sales and marketing since an early age. Before he was 10 years old, he was selling door to door, and he has been an active entrepreneur ever since. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1993, Jon moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he learned how to build houses, climb mountains, catch trout, and ski fast down hill. However, after several years of poverty with a nice view, Jon returned to his hometown of Nashville to seek his fortune. Within two years – at the age of 26 – he had started a direct marketing business that was earning six figure annual revenues. In addition to his passion for health, Jon has a strong interest in business and investing. He is also a staunch advocate for honest government and the libertarian values of privacy, freedom, and personal responsibility.