According to the latest guidelines used by some companies engaged in both the production of intense artificial sweeteners, as intensive and non intensive sweeteners derived from corn and other crops, in terms of developing the production of sweet molecules identical to those existing in stevia leaves, but through the use of genetically modified microorganisms (yeast), SWT has considered relevant to certify its own production method in order to provide consumers of full transparency about the way it’s stevia extracts are produced.
For that purpose, SWT has extended for the second consecutive year the external certification by Bureau Veritas which ensures that the extraction and purification process conducted by the company to produce Stevia Extracts does not use organic solvents or enzymes of no kind at all. At the moment, the company is expanding the certification in order to include the fact that No Genetically Modified Organisms are involved in the production of its extracts.
The Certification, which is an ISO CASCO 5 Certification for specific attributes, is granted by Bureau Veritas, and includes non announced visits and inspections to the production site, in which all operations and documentation of the company are reviewed, ensuring that what is communicated is completely consistent with the operation reality.
Through an internal investigation project, supported by Wageningen University and the Catholic University of Chile between 2012 and 2014, SWT has collaborated in the development of methods to detect adulteration of stevia products, in order to guarantee the authenticity of products sweetened with stevia. While both stevia extracts, as formulated with steviol glycosides products can be detected using methodologies HPLC methodology was developed with mass spectrometry LC MS MS, whereby it can be distinguished unequivocally when the formulations include glycosides steviol, no matter how complex the formula, synthetic or artificial sweeteners. The methodology allows to avoid false positives that can be observed on HPLC to identify artificial sweeteners such as steviol glycosides or vice versa.
The methodology is available to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, in collaboration with the American Federation of Stevia, has started to deliver the service Seal of Authenticity Products sweetened with Stevia. The Pontifical Catholic University, in conjunction with certification houses, taking care allow certify the chain of custody, which labeled as sweetened with stevia sweetened products are really this way and not with other sweeteners not labeled. This corresponds to a seal of authenticity that will have the support of the American Federation of Stevia.
Together with the University of Wageningen and the Catholic University of Chile, SWT has developed between 2012 and 2014 an extensive research in understanding the phenomena of sweetness perception, learning the interactions of stevia with other sweeteners and identifying how stevia connects with the tongues sweet receptors. During the investigation, we worked in various fields of action, from the development of several models of sweetness, which incorporate stevia, sugar and other ingredients, as well as sensory evaluation of these systems. With the same objective, we developed a state of the art sensory panel for the evaluation of products formulated with stevia, which have managed to eliminate the “carry over” effect between samples, a critical issue to validate an assessment of products sweetened with stevia. The panel is enabled for sensory evaluation of sweet products for the industry, not only for stevia but for all sweeteners, and has been an important contribution to the community.
Furthermore, we worked in the modeling and understanding of how the sweetener receptor interaction for both sweetness and bitterness receptors occurs.
The knowledge developed has allowed SWT sweeteners design and implement systems currently included in product portfolios.
SWT recently participated in the VIII International Congress of Kaa Hee Stevia, organized by REDIEX Paraguay and the Paraguayan Chamber of Stevia. During the congress, the companies belonging to the International Stevia Council (organization that includes several companies including Pure Circle, Cargill, Stevia One and Granular, among others), held a series of explanatory presentations on new technologies for producing steviol glycosides, either by enzymatic as from genetically modified yeasts fermentation, as an alternative to stevia extracts obtained from the plant without being chemically modified.
The American Stevia Federation concluded that key players of the business, including companies and institutions, must establish mechanisms which allow a proper analytical differentiation, as well as specific labeling informing consumers about the differences between extract from the plant and those products produced in genetically modified organisms (such as yeasts or other organisms) or chemically modified by enzymes. This would provide consumers with the necessary tools to make an informed decision at the moment of their consumer goods purchase.