A Diet Soda by Any Other Name

Drinkers of diet soda now have a new option to consider: two sodas recently on the market that are sweetened by stevia, also known as sweet leaf, a low-calorie sweetener that has been used for years in South America. Just don’t call these drinks diet soda.

The problem is FDA regulations that have approved stevia as a dietary supplement, but not as a food product. Otherwise, we’d all be calling the new Virgil’s Diet Root Beer and Zevia Sodas what they appear to be: diet sodas. As a recent AP article about the new stevia sodas points out, “They look like diet sodas. They taste like diet sodas. You just can’t call them diet sodas.”

This may change in the near future, as the Coca-Cola Company plans to push the FDA to reevaluate its decision. Coke sells stevia-sweetened drinks in Japan, where the herb has been used as the primary diet sweetener for more than 30 years. Perhaps with the corporate giant’s influence, stevia will get to come out of the sweetener closet.

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