A Note on Stevia (October 14, 2014)
An alert reader points out the following: “On stevia, folks need to be aware that most commercial preparations of stevia contain additives such as maltodextrin (Stevia In The Raw), dextrose, and cellulose (PureVia) to 'cut' the stevia and make it more profitable for sale. Truvia contains erythritol, one of the alcohol sugars you mentioned.”
I was shocked, SHOCKED when I read this! Especially when I then looked at the Trader Joe stevia products and saw that their liquid stevia contains alcohol and their two granular/powdered versions contain lactose and rice maltodextrin plus silica respectively! But I should not have been surprised. Such are the Perils of Processing. The more a food is expected to perform in some way that's not intrinsic to its nature -- have a longer shelf life, stand up to transport, mix smoothly with other foods, etc., etc. -- the more it has to be changed, and except for the occasional feeble attempt to "fortify" something none of those changes are made with nutrition in mind.
And here is another point – just because you don’t see it on the label DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT ISN’T IN THERE. Says the FDA: "If an ingredient is present at an incidental level and has no functional or technical effect in the finished product, then it need not be declared on the label." This includes anything that has migrated from the packaging into the food (which is where ALL the much-vilified BPA comes from) and things that are left in the food from the processing -- as long as it is present at an "incidental level". (And that's not even mentioning the rodent hair and droppings, oil and metal shavings from machinery, insect parts, etc.) This whole "incidental level" thing is a pretty gray area, since it's left up the manufacturer to make that decision. Some substances need only a few molecules to produce a physiological effect, so "incidental" may end up being of enormous importance after all.
Anytime you are eating something processed, keep in mind that even an ingredient list several inches long isn't listing everything that you are consuming.
--dr. diane holmes
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