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Studying the leaf at every stage of the process

Ensuring that the sweet molecules of the stevia leaf are unchanged during purification and extraction is an important part of the bringing stevia leaf extract from the leaf to final product. A study, conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany, focused on this part of the process, and was published on June 19, 2017.

Research Methodology

This is the first study to systematically determine whether steviol glycosides are modified by the typical commercial extraction and purification processes used to obtain high-purity steviol glycoside sweeteners. The study investigated whether commercial-scale extracted and purified steviol glycosides contain the same steviol glycoside pattern that is found in untreated leaves and the first water extract of stevia leaves, focusing on the nine steviol glycosides in the original JECFA specification (JECFA, 2010).

Samples of three independent commercial-scale batches of stevia leaf, provided by PureCircle, Ltd., were examined in the study. Each batch contained the original dried stevia leaf, the first water extract, and a final 95 percent purity stevia leaf extract end-product.

The samples were analyzed using ultra-violet high-performance liquid chromatography (UV-HPLC), and high-performance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-MS/MS) to separate, identify and quantify the individual steviol glycoside molecules.

Results and Key Findings

The results show that the commercial powders of extracted steviol glycosides provided by PureCircle, Ltd., contain the same nine steviol glycosides analyzed as the dried stevia leaves and their hot water extracts. Our results also show a similar distribution pattern from the three very different stages of the process, demonstrating that the nine steviol glycosides examined are not modified by the extraction or purification process.

These findings are significant because the fact that there is no change of the nine steviol glycosides in the provided samples from the original plant to extracted sweetener provides support for the natural authenticity of stevia sweeteners and the processing steps are fully designed to purify the stevia extract.